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Experimental Cinema, published by the Cinema Crafters of 
America, is the only magazine in the United States devoted to 
the principles of the art of the motion picture. It believes there 
is profound need at this time for a central organ to consolidate 
and orient those individuals and groups scattered throughout 
America, Europe and U. S. S. R. that are working to liberate the 
cinema from its stereotyped symbolism. It believes the time 
has come for wide critical and creative support of these isolated 
movements not only from the point of view of the spectator 
but also from the point of view of the creator, and it is the in- 
tention to experiment with new forms and to introduce to the 
spectator and creator the leading ideas and principles of the new 
film world. Experimental Cinema will be a forum where the 
work of directors and creators such as S. Eisenstein, W. Pudow- 
kin, Dovzhenko, C. Dreyer, Konzinstoff, Trauberg, E. Pom- 
mer, J. Feyder, B. Rahn, A. Cavalcanti, Mann Ray, M. Allegret, 
E. Deslaw, Pabst, J. Epstein, Rene Claire, A. Room, Lubitsch, 
Griffith, St-oheim, Vidor, Seastrom, Chaplin, Flaherty, von 
Sternberg and others will be discussed. There will also be 
criticism, analysis, and scenarios by internationally known men 
such as A. Bakshy, L. Moussinac, R. Aron, H. Potamkin, 
Seymour Stern, J. Lenauer, L. Bunuel, R. Desnos, R. Aldrich. 
Syd S. Salt, and others. Experimental Cinema as the advance 
guard of a new motion picture art believes it will be the nucleus 
of a profound and vital force toward the creation of a world- 
wide cinema ideology. It appeals to you to support this unique 











IT is one of the strange paradoxes of our time 
that the nineteenth century while trying in 
various ways to eliminate the mysterious and 
along with it mystery itself from the universe, at 
its close bequeathed to the twentieth, what is per- 
haps one of the greatest single forces that history 
will record, for imbuing immense masses of people 
with that concentrated mystic fervour which the 
church was once able to inspire in its devotees — 
the cinema, silent conqueror of space, time and 
causality. In a remarkable communication con- 
cerning the machine in modern civilization written 
by Elva de Pue and published as an appendix by 
Waldo Frank in "The Rediscovery of America", 
Miss Elva de Pue writes that "the movie alone 
which tells one people in a universal language about 
the life of other peoples, however banal its initial 
stammering language, must in the end draw them 
closer together than even the mystery which they 
gathered of yore in magnificent cathedrals which 
pointed them away from the earth and its values, 
the earth which they were forced temporarily to 
deny. In a world filled with the stench of gang- 
rened wounds; in a world filled with the stench of 
sewage gathering in moats; in a world filled with 
plague, that plague which eventually was a factor 
in the loss of belief in a merciful God : no incense 
could disguise those stenches. No great bells and no 
calm glory of intoning could drown the cries of 
brutalized underlings tortured by their masters, lay 
and clerical. In that dark world the dependence 
upon another life was necessary as a compensation. 
as salvation from despair." Today, particularly in 
America, at a time when there is everywhere desire 
to escape the perils and the problems of a mechanic- 
al age, at a time when it has become almost fashion- 
able to fall back into traditional positions, beaten 
paths off the main road, without even attempt at 
analysis or positive statement of the problems of 
mechanism as to their social, political or psycholog- 
ical elements, and in this sense, the humanism of 
those who look back to New England for author- 
ity, is as far away from the actual problems of the 
American scene as the humanitarianism of those 
who look forward to U. S. S. R- for a point of 
reference. At a time like this, there is exigent 
need of a force powerful enough to assist in the 
I presentation of these problems, socially, politically, 
psychologically, and if possible to transform them 
to meet the realities of the time, realities deeply 
implanted by the revelations of modern science. 
That force itself can be nothing other than a 
mechanism, a machine. Anything other than the 
machine is impotent in the face of so much mach- 
inery to orient. Such a force is the motion picture 
machine which throws its light from one end of 
the world to the other and back in an instant, 
"that tells one people in a universal language about 
the life of other peoples however banal its initial 
stammering language" may be. The motion pic- 

ture camera — which in the control of man is 
the cinema with a subject matter as wide as the 
universe and an understanding as great as nature, 
and in the control of men of "genius — the cinema 
of Greed, Gold Rush, Theresa Raquin, Potemkin. 
End of St. Petersburg, New Babylon, Passion of 
Joan, Arsenal and ihe boundless potentialities of 
the new cinema of the future with its explorations 
into the legends and myths of the new age of the 
machine. This is the devotional cinema that is tra- 
versing with the speed of light and opening up to 
the masses, the mysteries of the new universe of 
modern physics, bounded yet limitless, almost in 
answer to the prayer for an interpretation of man's 
changing relationship with man and his ultimate 
position in the universe that will be something 
more than "isms" at the end of words or stultifying 
mechanical noise. The New Cinema — profound 
creator of free will and knowledge absolute — 
with the power of transmuting water into wine and 
thence to bread and back again to water should 
it choose to do so. wherein the fabled mountain 
to extend a metaphor, not only goes to Mahomet 
but to heaven as well to bring back the ghosts of all 
those slain in the name of Mohammedism; wherein 
Narcissus slips into the pool and finds himself be- 
ing unreeled in the form of a flower that blooms 
to a fountain sprouting blood in streams as high 
as Betelgeuse — with no return to earth, defying 
gravities. In Cinema — Faust has reappeared on 
the thirteenth stroke of the clock, in new guise, 
to perpetuate the eternal alchemy that cannot be 
denied to spirit; the faustian soul has drunk deep 
of the new elixir and is appeased in cinema; for 
here is a new world of miracle wherein all is solv- 
ed and sufficient: wherein every wish is granted; 
every hope fulfilled: wherein to conceive is to ex- 
ecute and execution — revelation. ' One receives in 
the words of a modern french cinematographer 
and poet: "A trolley car on the chest. An auto in 
the back. A trapdoor under foot. One has a 
tunnel in his eyes and rises to the fifteenth floor 
drawn by the hair. All this while smoking a 
pipe with the hands at the faucet ... A storm tears 
out your tonsils, a cry passes thru you like the 
shadow of an iceberg" (Cendrars) . Time is no 
more; the temporal becomes transformed into a 
timeless, ageless world; an incident occurs and 
later reoccurs. at the same place and at the same 
moment in relation to past or future incidents. 
A smokestack falls and in an i - , it is resurrected 
to its former position. Two irains meet on one 
track and fly over each other with the grace of 
gods. Man has conquered the air without wing, 
in cinema; and the atom has finally given up its 
precious secret: of myths like these is born a great 
ideal. This is the subject of cinema, as all things 
are the subject of cinema; there is nothing it can- 
not transfix into a moment of beauty that no other 
agency can match so marvelously well; there is no 

Vol. I No. I 

Copyrighted 1930 by Cinema Crafters 


message it cannot immortalize in memorable mov- 
ing pictures: it has in its sixth sense the power to 
penetrate so deeply into the mystery of reality be- 
cause of the instantaneity of vision the camera 
gives, that all other media become pallid along side 
it. In Cinema, emotion, is caught and fixed at the 
very moment it is felt, in all its purity. Things 
are conceived as they are perceived; to think is to 
act. In that lies the omnipotence of the medium. 
This is the new cinema. And because it contains 
in its heart the very essence of the modern spirit 
which in its deepest implications is as catholic and 
as elastic as life itself — a spirit that Montaigne 
a true humanist if ever there were one, would have 
understood were it revealed to him in the cinema 
only — it is vitally necessary to those of us today 
who cannot accept local or aloof positions at a 
time when man has it in his power to unite with 
man from one end of the world to the other for 
the first time in history. When painters, writers, 
philosophers, laymen in tune with this Catholicism 
come to realize the potentiality of the cinema as 
powerful stimulus to creative activity much in the 
same light as the authority of the church of the 
thirteenth century served as bulwark for work in 
philosophy, stained glass cutting, woodcarving etc., 
then the renaissance we have been awaiting so im- 
patiently will have come indeed. 

David Piatt. 

Dynamic Composition 


IN so far as visual images constitute the basic 
material of the motion picture the problem of 
cinematic composition is nothing else than the 
organization of these images in a sequential order. 
It is clear that there is more than one way of 
carrying out such an organization. The sim- 
plest and most obvious way is that of arranging 
the images in an order in which their content mat- 
ter is used as so many connected links in the chain 
of representations which forms the narrative- In 
this case the actual form of images plays but a 
subordinate part, being at best, as in close-up, 
for instance, only the function of their represent- 
ational content. 

The motion picture as an art of story-telling 
has been principally concerned with supplying 
the spectator with such visual information as would 
ensure the desired intellectual and emotional re- 
action. At first, when the plots were simple ana 
the technique still elementary, a straightforward 
stringing together of a series of scenes was all that 
was considered necessary for unfolding the story. 
Later, the more complicated stories and the greater 
detalization of images helped to bring into use the 
flashback and the parallel action, the two devices 
of cutting which introduced the method of inter- 
mittent composition. In this way the content 
matter of images became for the first time a formal 
element of cinematic composition. This formal 
character of the treatment of images, be it noted, 

had nothing to do with their visual form; it was 
merely a means of organizing their content — a 
means which unquestionably has its origin in the 
peculiar mechanical structure of the motion pic- 
ture, but which also has its analogues in other non- 
visual arts, as for example, in fiction and poetry. 

During the last few years some very interesting 
attempts have been made in various countries, and 
particularly in Russia, to develop other methods of 
formal composition on the basis of image-content. 
The problem has been attacked from two different 
sides. On the one hand, experiments have been 
tried to establish a primary cinematic unit in the 
form of a group of images constructed somewhat 
on the lines of a grammatical sentence- Examples 
of this method are found in Eisenstein's "Ten 
Days that Shook the World" in which the use 
of symbols in the construction of various "figures 
of speech" deserves special notice. On the other 
hand, attempts have been made to base the com- 
position of the film as a whole on such methods 
of formalised treatment of the image content as 
the arrangement of "rhymed" sequences with cer- 
tain images recurring at definite intervals, or of 
whole cycles of sequences on the lines of a repeat- 
ing pattern somewhat after the manner of certain 
verse forms. Dziga Vertov is considered in Rus- 
sia as the head of this school of cinematic com- 

Side by side with the line of development just 
described which is based on the assumption that 
the form of cinematic composition is the function 
of the sum total of its image content, the history 
of the motion picture reveals another line of dev- 
elopment which sometimes crosses the former and 
sometimes follows an independent course, and 
which proceeds from the assumption that the con- 
tent matter of a film is the function of its organized 
visual form. 

Ever since the first motion pictures were made it 
has been universally recognized that the cinematic 
visual image has one fundamental characteristic 
which distinguishes it from the visual images in 
other arts. This characteristic is movement. Al- 
though the term, particularly in its solemn guise 
of "dynamic quality", has acquired a sort of mys- 
tic halo, it is well to remember that it is essentially 
pragmatic in its origin and represents strictly defin- 
able properties of the motion picture mechanism. 
The men who made movies when the art was 
still new and unexplored, were not theorists. All 
they were concerned with was to give their pic- 
tures the semblance of life, and it took them but 
a short time to discover that a motionless object 
on the screen was as good as dead. Hence the 
orgy of recorded motion which distinguished the 
early movies. 

It was at a comparatively early stage, too, that 
the necessity of movement not only in the charac- 
ters and objects, but in whole scenes in relation 
to one another, was realised. Two reasons dictat- 
ed this necessity. In the first place, there was the 
concentrated technique of cutting arising from the 
fragmentary nature of the film record, which had 
the effect not only of speeding up movement but 
also of compressing time. In certain situations this 


latter effect was found to conflict rather too harsh- 
ly with the sequence of events in real time. For 
instance, a scene showing a man in front of a street 
door, followed immediately by a scene showing 
the same man inside the house, is likely to produce 
the impression of something unreal. An interval 
of time is clearly demanded between the two 
scenes, and this is supplied by an interpolated third 
scene which may be a close up of the man, or the 
view of the room he is about to enter, or some 
other related Jubject. The method of parallel ac- 
tion is but an extended application of the same 
principle and achieves a similar effect of expanded 
time which sometimes, as in the climaxes of Grif- 
fith's pictures, is deliberately prolonged beyond 
even the realistic implications of the subject for a 
specific emotional effect. 

The other and perhaps even more important 
reason for changing scenes and thus introducing 
a greater mobility of visual images, is found in the 
very character of realistic acting when it is used 
on the screen. In real life or on the stage speech 
itself constitutes action. A conversation between 
two persons may contain a series of events pregnant 
with dramatic significance, although the person 
speaking may engage in very little physical move- 
ment. On the screen the situation is different. 
Deprived of his words, even when these are present 
in the form of subtitles, the screen actor can ex- 
press himself only by means of gesture and move- 
ment. Bu" ",he naturalistic convention of acting 
excludes all but a few of these forms of expression. 
The inevitable result is that while the stage actor 
who uses speech can sustain a situation without a 
change in the setting for the length of a whole 
act, the screen actor finds his resources of expres- 
sion exhausted within as short a time as a minute. 
It was to relieve the screen actor of this predica- 
ment and a. rhc same time to give greater emphasis 
and variety to the means of expression, that long 
situations were reduced to a series of fragmentary 
scenes with long and medium shots, close-ups and 
"angles" thrown in for the sake of variety and 
emphasis. It is instructive to note that with the 
advent of talkies long scenes depending entirely 
on the dialogue and showing very little movement 
made their appearance on the screen. The fact 
that the latest talkies indicate a return to the tech- 
nique of the silent picture with its short and 
fragmentary scenes, only goes to prove that the 
handling of dialogue on the screen is still far from 
being efficient and that the old "dynamic" form 
of composition wields a superior power of emo- 
tional appeal. 

If the movement involved in the change from 
one scene to another brought to the fore the im- 
mediate significance of the form of the visual im- 
age, the movement resulting from a series of such 
changes organized in a manner conforming to a 
certain rhythmic scheme, placed the visual form in 
the position of the dominant factor in the building 
of cinematic composition. At this instance it is un- 
necessary to go into a description of the various 
methods of rhythmic organization of images be- 
yond pointing to the work of Abel Gance, Leger 
and Murphy, Murnau, Eisenstein and Dovzhenko. 

The important fact to be borne in mind is that 
cinematic rhythm is a form of visual composition 
which is itself charged with powerful emotional 
appeal and at the same time, while remaining in- 
dependent of the image content, conveys and shapes 
the latter's appeal as well. 

The effect of rhythm is to organize sequences of 
visible beats and accents. It establishes a visual 
continuity of intermittent images as a function of 
time. It leaves untouched, however, the problem 
of spacial continuity, of the spacial relationship 
of images to one another as elements of the visual 
cinematic composition. No pictures known to 
the writer have so far suggested a satisfactory solu- 
tion of this problem. And yet so long as this 
problem remains unsolved the motion picture as 
a medium of dynamic visual art will never reach 
its complete maturity. I The continuity of visual 
form implies a dynamic composition of which the 
only existing illustration in other visual arts is 
found in the moving composition of ballet. Just 
ns in the latter, the cinematic visual form has to 
be built in time, and its elements of composition 
should be not static images but lines of forces or 
movements in definite directions. It goes without 
saying that movement in this sense includes not 
only moving objects, nor movement of images in 
time only, but also their movement in space over 
the entire surface of the screen. The technical 
obstacles which still stand in the way of such 
dynamic composition are likely to be removed in 
the near future by the various announced devices 
for enlarged projection. In them therefore lies 
the promise of the mature cinema whose intel- 
lectual and emotional appeal will be the function 
of its dynamic composition. 

Film Problems of Soviet Russia 


BRYHER, assistant editor of Close Up, has just 
published (under the imprint of Pool, Territ- 
et, Switzerland) a book entitled, "Film Pro- 
blems of Soviet Russia." The title is misleading, 
for the book is in reality a compendium of synop- 
sis of Soviet Films, with some critical commentary, 
and data anent directorial personalities, concluding 
with a chapter, from whose heading the book 
takes its name, on the British embargo of Russian 
motion pictures- The sole "problem" of the Rus- 
sian film considered here is the non-cinematic pro- 
blem of the British antagonism. Bryher's book is 
a plea for the recognition of the Russian cinema 
by England. She stresses not only the artistic 
merit of the Soviet kino, but urges that vital cinema 
upon the British intelligence as quite in accord 
ideologically with the social sentiments of the free 
Briton. This would seem to characterize Rus- 
sian ideology as reformative in its outlook, a quite 
acceptable middleman's social philosophy. This 
sums up the Russian social attack as entirely 
harmless. If that were so, the Russian film, in- 
formed by this assertive ideology, would lack the 
essential vigor which is its physical health. But 


the Russian idea is dangerous, decidedly danger- 
ous, to the prevailing acceptations. The danger- 
ous idea creates the dangerous, or heroic, structure 
— ultimately. 

The heroic structure, is not achieved spontan- 
eously from the dangerous or heroic idea. Form 
is attained only by penetration and perseverance 
and discipline. By all thr°e and not by any of 
these alone. The last two may create a style, per- 
severance a manner, the three together form. Form 
is the conception constantly informing the struc- 
ture. To understand the problems of form in the 
cinema of the USSR, we must consider the com- 
ponents of the Russian social attitude. 

The Russian social idea is composed of the fol- 
lowing: the social-revolution, the criticism of the 
bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the 
ultimate of collectivism, the re-education of the 
mass and the individual in the mass, the conquest 
of the egocentric mind. Each of these is identi- 
fied with the other. The Russian film, confront- 
ing these social intentions, must solve its pro- 
blems, its construction, with these as insistences 
and total experience or final "message." That 
the Soviet kino has been preoccupied with the in- 
tegral national idea of collectivism is more than 
evident. The preoccupation has been called too 
facilely "propaganda," with its' negative connota- 
tion of counter-art. But propaganda, when pro- 
foundly conceived and realized structurally in the 
form, is art. The Russian cinema, and the Swed- 
ish before it, have alone approximated form. 

That the approximations have not as yet been 
extended into a completed structure is due to a 
number of disturbances, vacillations in the inclus- 
ive idea, which induce vacillations in structure. 
These vacillations are: the concern with the ego- 
centric and the deflection from the relevant me- 
thod. The latter refers to the failure to discover 
the correct conversion of a profound and inferen- 
tial social material into motographic treatment. 
Or to put it more simply: the Russians persist, 
generally, in a method ill-suited to their material. 
The method is the American muscular movie, 
which served as initial instruction to the Soviet 
Cinema and which has persisted, in the work of 
Pudowkin especially, as the Russian medium, per- 
fected beyond naive American uses. However, 
the Russians have recognized that this technique 
can go no further and, as Eisenstein has said, can- 
not satisfy the reflective processes. We begin to 
see the new and intrinsically Russian film in Dov- 
zhenko's Arsenal- In this film the early Russian 
juxtaposition of the individual and his analogy 
(the simile) become, at least in intention, a struc- 
ture of integrated symbolism with a new non-ver- 
bal continuity or logic. The symbol in the real- 
istic structure — a simplism intended ultimately as 
a kino language — is substituted correctly by a 
structure incorporating the symbolic conversion of 
the realistic detail, such as the human personality. 
So is one problem of the Soviet cinema being met. 
A vexing problem is that of the individual in the 
film, to what extent shall he be expressed? Rus- 
sia is troubled by this matter, as the criticism 
dealt Protozanoff's The Man from the Restau- 

rant testifies. Eisenstein, interviewed in France, 
has remarked with severity upon what he terms 
the retrogression in the Russian film, the back- 
step to the single personage. He adds, however, 
that this is only a momentary withdrawal for an 
accumulation of strength toward a further ad- 
vance. To Eisenstein. the constructor of mass- 
film edifices, the intellectualist and classicist of 
the Russian film, complete objectivity is pos- 
sible. He does not penetrate the individual and 
there is a question in my mind whether he has 
penetrated the social inference contained in the 
mass-expression. I await his rendering of the 
reflective- But to the other film makers of Rus- 
sia, the individual is an experience. The prob- 
lem becomes more simplified when we ask: how 
can the individual as an experience become the 
social idea as an experience? The answer is 
contained in a number of films: from Pudowkin 
to Dovzhenko. In these the treatment is not con- 
cerned with the narrative of the individual caught 
pathetically in the social morass, or fate — - the 
German and American evasion of the social criti- 
cism contained in the plight of the individual (see 
The Last Laugh and The Crowd). The in- 
dividual in The End of St. Petersburg and Arsenal, 
in Storm over Asia and In Old Siberia, is the con- 
centration of the social force. For a moment one 
expected such concentration in The Man from the 
Restaurant, when the walk-out occurs, but the 
film disintegrates into a palpably American story 
of the rich villain and the young hero and pure 

A third problem arises from the educational 
purpose of cinema production in Russia. How 
can this purpose be rendered cinematically? Ei- 
senstein approaches this problem from the object- 
ivity of the newsreel. A very delicate operation 
is involved, to subtilize the didactic. Nothing is 
impossible in the film, everything is its material. 
The problem is an intellectual one. That is where 
intellectuality enters the cinema. 

A lesser problem, but an important one, is the 
criticism of the bourgeosie. Up to the present that 
criticism has been' mostly a too Dickensian 
caricature of certain gross types, not a revelation 
of basic errors which are expressed in vicious ten- 
dencies. In other words, types have been ridiculed, 
but the bourgeois ideology has not yet been 
criticised. An attempt at organizing a critique 
condemnation is the sequence of two conducts, 
such as, men dying in battle, the exploiter indulg- 
ing his appetite. This is, of course, elementary, 
but it is necessarily so- The first criticism had tc 
be visceral. The criticism of the fundamentals is 
a development. 

(To be continued ) 

Experimental Cinema is published monthly by the 
Cinema Crafters of America at 1629 Chestnut St., 
Philadelphia. Penna., U. S. A. 

All manuscripts and subscriptions should be mailed to 
the above address. 

Price $2.00 a year: — 20c per copy. 


Film Direction and Film Manuscript 


Translation by Christel Gang made from the German of Georg and Nadja Friedland, Edition 
Verlag der Licht Bild Buhne. Copyright 1930 by Seymour Stern. 


THE foundation of film-art is montage. 
With this password advanced the young cin- 
ematography of Soviet Russia. And to this 
day, it has lost nothing of its (original) sign- 
ificance and effect. 

It must be stated, that the concept "Montage" 
is not aiways correctly comprehended or judicious- 
ly interpreted. Among many people, the naive 
conception prevails that by montage is to be un- 
derstood a simple pasting-together of the film- 
strips in their temporal sequence. Others again 
recognize only two kinds of montage: a quick and 
a slow. But they forget — or they do not know 
in the first place — that the moment of rhythm 
that is the law, which determines the variation of 
short and long film-pieces, is far from exhausting 
all posibilities of montage. 

Allow me, by the way of elucidation, to draw 
upon another art-form, literature, in order to bring 
the significance of montage and its future pos- 
sibilities more clearly into focus. For the poet 
or the writer, the single word represents the raw- 
material- It can have the most varied meanings, 
which first become defined through the word's 
position in the sentence. If, however, the word 
is dependent upon the potentialities of the com- 
position, its strength and effect will be variable 
until it is a part of the fully realized art-form. 

For the film-director, each scene of the finished 
film signifies the same as the word for the poet. 
Hesitating, selecting, discarding, cross-checking, 
he stands before the film-pictures and only through 
the conscious, artistic composition are the "mon- 
tage-sentences'' created, out of which, step by 
step, emerges the definite art-work, the film. 

The expression, that a film is "turned"*, is 
entirely false and must be banished from film- 
language. A film is not "turned" — it is 
built out of the individual little picture-scenes, 
which represent the raw-material of the film. 
When a writer uses a word, for example, birch, it 
registers, so to speak, the protocol of a definite 
object, but it is void of soulful substance. Only 
in relationship with other words, only within the 
frame of a more complicated form, does it receive 
life and reality in art. I open a book, that lies 
before me, and read: "The tender green of the 
birch-tree" — certainly no first-rate composition, 
but it reveals distinctly and exhaustively the dif- 
ference between the single word and a word-struc- 
ture, in which the word "birch" has no longer a 
protocol-designation, but has assumed literary 
form. The dead word has been stimulated into 
life through art. 

1 maintain that every object which has been 
photographed from a definite viewpoint and is 
shown upon the screen to the spectator, is a dead 
object, even if it has moved before the camera. 
The independent movement of an object before 
the camera is still no movement on the screen ;it 
is no more than the raw-material for the future 
montage-structure of the movement, which re- 
presents a composition of a number of different 
film-pictures. Only when the object is composed 
out of a multiplicity of individual pictures when it 
emerges as the synthesis of different individual 
picture forms, does it possess filmic life. Exact- 
ly as the word birch, it transforms itself through 
this process from a kind of protocol (recording) , 
photographic copy of nature, into filmic form- 

Every object must be so brought upon the screen 
through montage, that it receives not photographic, 
but cinematographic, reality. 

We see that the significance of montage and its 
sphere of work for the director is far from being 
exhausted by a succession of contents or by the pre- 
sentation of a time-rhythm. Montage is that 
primary, creative moment through which, out of 
a soulless photography, (the individual film-pic- 
tures) the living, cinematographic form is created. 
It is characteristic that in the presentation of a 
filmic form very different types of material may 
be used, which, in reality, have reference to entire- 
ly different appearances. Allow me to cite, as il- 
lustration, an example from my last film, The End 
of St. Petersburg. 

At the beginning of the reel, which is devoted 
to the war, I wished to show a tremendous dyna- 
mite-explosion. In order to endow this explosion 
with the completest authenticity (of effect) , I had 
a great mass of dynamite buried in the earth, and 
photographed the blast. The explosion was truly 
extraordinary — ■ only not in the film. On the 
screen it was a tedious, lifeless affair. 

Later, after long searching and testing, I mount- 
ed the explosion according to the effect I desired, 
without, however, using one single piece of the 
material first photographed. I photographed a 
flammen-werter, which threw out a thick column 
of smoke. In order to give the effect of the con- 
cussion, I mounted short shots of a magnesium- 
flame, in rhythmical change of light and dark. 
In between, I placed a "stock" shot of a river, 
which seemed to me suitable here because of its 
particular light-effects- Thus, finally, there came 
into manifestation the effect I had desired. The 
bomb-explosion was now on the screen: what it 
corresponded to in actuality might have been any- 



thing at all, except a real explosion. 

Wtih this example I will say that montage is 
the creator of filmic reality, and that nature re- 
presents only the raw material for its work. That 
is decisive for the relationship of film and actual- 
This thought leads inevitably to consideration 
of the actor. The individual who is photograph- 
ed is only the raw material for the future com- 
position of his form in the film, effected through 
montage. When in my film, "The End of St. 
Petersburg, the task confronted me to depict an in- 
dustrial magnate, I sought to solve the problem 
by mounting (associating) his figure with the 
rider-statue of Peter the First. I maintain, that 
the form so composed with an entirely different 
reality, takes the place of the mimic of the player, 
which usually smacks of the theatre. 

In my earlier film.. Mother, I wanted to affect 
the spectator not through the psychological repre- 
sentation of the player, but through the medium 
of the depiction through montage. The son is 
sitting in his prison-cell. Suddenly a scrap of 
paper is slipped into his hand, (containing infor- 
mation) that he is to be set free the next day. It 
was now a question of how to portray his joy 
filmically. Merely to photograph the joyously 
excited face would be ineffectual- So I showed the 
play of the hands and a huge close-up of the lower 
half of the face, of the laughing mouth. These 
shots I mounted together wiith entirely different 
material. For instance, with shots of a turbulent- 
ly flowing spring stream, with the play of sun- 
beams, which blended with the water, of birds, 
that played in village ponds, and finally with a 
laughing child. Thus, the expression of the "joy 
of the prisoner" seemed to me to have been formed. 
I do not know how the spectators have taken to 
my experiment: I myself am profoundly convinced 
of its effect. 

Cinematography strides forward at a rapid 
tempo. Its possibilities are inexhaustible. We 
must not forget, that it is only now coming into 
its own as a true art, since it has only now been 
freed from the dictatorship of alien art-forms, for 
example, the theatre. Now it stands on the feet 
of its own methods. 

The will, to suggest thoughts and emotions 
from the screen to the public through montage, 
is of emphatic significance, as it dispenses with 
theatrical (sentimental, maudlin) titles. I am 
firmly convinced that this is the path along which 
this great international art of the film will con- 
tinue to progress. 

Berlin, June, 1928 \V. Pudowkin 

The manuscripts that are submitted to pro- 
duction-companies have usually a very hetero- 
geneous character. Almost all of them represent 
the primitive rendition of some fictional content, 
with which the authors have obviously troubled 
themselves only in order to relate some action, and 
utilizing for the most part, literary methods and 
not stopping to consider whether the material sub- 
mitted by them will be interesting in cinemato- 
graphic treatment- This question, however, is 


very important. Every art possesses its own type 
of material-formation. That naturally applies 
also to the film. To work on a manuscript with- 
out knowing the working-methods of the director, 
without knowing the methods of shooting and 
cutting the film, is just as senseless as to give a 
Frenchman a German verse in literal translation. 
In order to convey the correct impression to the 
Frenchman, one must re-form the verse with due 
recognition of the peculiarities of the French poetic 
metre. In order to create a manuscript suitable 
for filming, one must know the methods through 
which the spectator can be influenced from the 

Sometimes, however, the view is advocated that 
the author has only to give the general, primitive 
outline of the action. The entire filmic adapta- 
tion (according to this view) is the concern of the 
director. But this view is entirely false. One 
must always bear in mind, that in no art can the 
creative process (formation) be divided into isola- 
ted stages, independent of one another. If one 
reflects on the theme, the final form of the film 
will certainly appear only in unclear outlines. But 
the manuscript-writer must have an image-con- 
ception (Vorstellung) of this form; he must create 
material sufficiently suitable to provide the direct- 
or with the possibility of creating a production of 
filmically powerful effect. Usually, the result is 
entirely otherwise. There generally emerge out 
of the first scenario-attempts of the author a great 
deal of uninteresting, verbal, insurmountable hind- 
rances that present obstacles in the path of filmic 
It is the task of this study to offer an elementary 
knowledge of the fundamental methods of work 
on the manuscript. A manuscript can be built 
as drama, and then it will be subjected to the laws 
which regulated the construction of a drama. In 
other cases, it can approximate the novel, and ac- 
cordingly it will be defined by other construction- 
principles. But in the present work these ques- 
tions can be only hastily touched upon, and readers 
who are particularly interested in them, must have 
recourse to special works. 

What Is Meant by the Continuity? 
It is generally known, that the finished film 
consists of a whole series of more or less short 
scenes, which succeed one another in a definite se- 
quence-series- In the development of the action the 
spectator is transported to one or the other place, 
or, even more than that: he is shown a scene, a sit- 
uation or a player not as totality-appearance, — but 
the camera selects single parts of the scene or of the 
human body. This style of the building-up of 
a picture, which divides the material into elements 
and then builds out of them a filmic whole, is call- 
ed the cutting of the film or the "Montage". More 
will be said about that in the second part of this 
work. For the present, it is only necessary to al- 
lude in passing to this essential form of film-work. 
In filming the manuscript, the director is not in 
position to take the shots according to sequence,' 
that is, to begin with the first scenes and to follow 
the shots through to the end in logical order. The 


reason is very simple. If a decoration (set) is 
built, it almost always develops that the scenes 
playing within this decorative frame are scattered 
throughout the manuscript. If the idea should 
occur to the director to proceed after the shot of 
this scene to the following scene in the manuscript, 
which takes place in an entirely different location, 
it would be necessary from the start to build an 
extra-ordinary series of settings, which would con- 
sume an inconceivable amount of space and an 
equally inconceivable amount of material. Final- 
ly, a whole mass of sets would stand there, but it 
would not be possible to have one or the other 
pulled down- 
To work in that fashion is naturally impossible. 
Neither the director nor the player, therefore, has 
the possibility to work in continuity-form. 
Through the loss of this possibility, at the same 
time, the unity, the style of the work and, with 
that, its effect, are imperilled. In order, therefore, 
to assure this structural (spiritual) unity, a method 
must be found, which, despite the fragmentization 
of the individual shots, will warrant a unified 
form of the whole. Above all, it is necessary to 
work out the manuscript in advance in the min- 
utest detail, and the director will only then achieve 
positive results if he forms each single detail film- 
ically, the final goal always before his eyes. In 
this preparatory work the style must be created, 
which conditions the value of the art-work. All 
individual, separate placements of the (camera) — 
apparatus — far, near, close up, above-angle, etc. 
— all technical properties, which connect a shot 
with the preceding and the succeeding shots, every- 
thing that constitutes the inner contents of a scene, 
must be precisely established, otherwise in the film- 
ing of a scene picked out of the middle of the man- 
uscript, irremediable mistakes will occur. Thus, 
the continuity, that is, the finished shooting-form 
of the manuscript, represents a new and final-de- 
finitive establishment of every single detail, with 
provisions for all technical methods that are re- 
quisite for the shooting of the scenes.* 

To require of the authors, that they write their 
work in such form, (virtually) means to make di- 
rectors out of them. But this work must be ac- 
complished even if the authors do not furnish a fin- 
ished shooting- "Stahlmanuscript"*, in which case 
they must provide the director with a series of es- 
sential stimulative items. The more technically 
detailed the continuity is worked out, the more 
possibilities will be at hand to realize on the screen 
the visual appearances which the author has pre- 

The second chapter of Part I of Pudowkin's 
book will appear in the next number of EX- 
PERIMENTAL CINEMA, and further transla- 
tion of the entire book will appear serially there- 

*I. c, "cranked" or revolved. 

"*This sentence defines what is meant by a "Stahlmanuscript" 
(steel-manuuTipt) . ■ — C. G. 

Analytical Treatise on the Dreyer Film, 
"The Passion of Joan of Arc" with Ap- 
pendix of a Constructive Critique. 

(Translated from the German Original by 
Christel Gang of Universal Pictures Studio) . 

MORE correctly stated, the film should be 
inasmuch as the montage-form and the 
called "The Trial Day of Joan of Arc", 
technique, which director Dreyer employs here, 
grow out of the embodied material and subject: 
the conflict between the clergy and the primitive, 
but faith-exalted, individuality, Joan. 

Apart from its political significance, the col- 
lective belief-form of the church is shaken, by this 
simple ecstatic girl, to its foundations. 

As with Bernard Shaw, it became an absolute 
necessity that Joan should suffer death. To ex- 
press it in terms of Dostoievsky (Grand Inquisi- 
tor*), the returning savior would be once more 
nailed to the cross. 

Viewing it in such a light, Dreyer selected the 
rhythmical, raw structure. He had to develop 
the film in such a way that Joan represented the 
combatible almost static center-point of the im- 
age-whole, and the judging council around her 
had to stand out in sharp, active contrast. Slow- 
ly, but surely, the circle narrows closer and closer 
upon her, straining towards a verdict- 

Therefore, the deeming monotony of the film- 
rhythm up to the torture-scene has been con- 
sciously planned, for the exhaustive legal quibbling, 
the length and the monotonous form of conduct- 
ing such a trial can in itself forcibly lead to the 
desired testimony. This torturous procedure on 
trial is not only medieval, but is still in our mod- 
ern era applied successfully by the police. 

A great deal of comment was made against the 
close-up treatment of this film, without anyone's 
really offering a convincing argument. 

This close-up technique evolved, and it was 
postulated for this film, as already mentioned, out 
of the material that had to be embodied, and it 
is this particular film's own style inasmuch as the 
theme is not conveyed by abstract pantomimic ac- 
tion, but rather by a more spiritual one. 


The impression produced through such a 
type of picture-and-montage form depends 
upon <\he association of expression from 
close-up to close-up, plus dynamic rhythm. 

To determine more clearly the necessity of the 
close-ups here, I should like to state that the psy- 
chological characters in their strong divergence had 
to be absolutely kept apart from one another, as 
every psychological type in this film represents 
a world in itself. Understood in a purely optical 
way, these types had also to be separate and dis- 

*In The Brothers Karumazoff. 


tinct (particularly Joan) and a reciprocal mental, 
as well as physical, contact takes place across the 
frame of each scene and across the intercut of the 
scenes of the picture. 

A typical example of this conflict-contact of 
types is the scoffing-scene: An English soldier 
tickles Joan with a long straw. If Dreyer had 
taken the two, that is, the soldier and Joan, and 
placed them into the same frame, Joan would have 
lost (suffered) (for the spectator) in formal sign- 
ificance. The director therefore keeps the two 
strictly separate, and goes so far that he does not 
even show us the soldier's hand, but only the 
moving long straw as it tickles Joan's face. 

By this cut, all physical elements (of the 
soldier) have been eliminated from the shot of 
Joan, and only the base conduct on the one side, 
and the emotional reaction of Joan, on the other 
side, dominate the scene. That is, — absolute 
concentration on the head of Joan. Then, when 
Dreyer cuts back to the soldier, the latter strikes 
us as doubly raw in his coarseness. 

Elucidation of the picture-composition: MED. 
CLOSE SHOT: The soldier's body is turned 
towards the camera. His head and glance are 
turned towards the right frame. His extended 
arm and hand with the long straw begin moving 
towards the lower right corner of the frame. Ful- 
ly aware of his power, the soldier grins sadistical- 


In contrast: CLOSE UP of JOAN. Mov- 
ing from out of the lower left corner, the long 
straw appears upon her face, without the soldier's 

Through this compositional structure, Joan is 
reflected in the glory of martyrdom, similar to 
that of Christ in the Scoffing-scene. 

Dreyer no doubt was fully aware of this and 
deliberately chose the Christ-motif, but, as the 
symbolical parallelism did not lie so close at hand, 
it had to be first creatively "discovered" as "plas- 
tic material." 

Once more to emphasize the necessity of the 
close-up in this film, I should like to mention 
that the close-up is used to express emotion. The 
most sensitive mimical values are given their full 
worth. Thoughts, even the most hidden psy- 
chological functions, which speech and a the- 
atrical performance have never been, and never 
will be, able to convey, become revealed to the 

If I wished to classify Dreyer's special film- 
style, I would use the formula: 


It is self-evident, that this particular psycholo- 
gical note in a film presupposes, first, excep- 
tionally trained acting material, and secondly, 
an intellectual, spectator, as only in such a 
spectator, who possesses a wealth of association- 
conceptions, can this filmic quality and potency 
evoke its fullest response. 

Certain it is, that such a film is not for the 
masses, because for the unschooled, primitive spec- 
tator the significance lies in action, in rhythmic 
and atmospheric presentation. Thus, the torture- 

scenes and the burning at the stake in Joan will 
make the fastest and strongest impression. The 
inspired, superb performance of Mile. Falconetti 
is universally acknowledged. 

Before the first significant rhythmical highspot, 
the torture scene, the curve of action leaps several 
times abruptly, upward and downward. The 
change in the curve of action occurs in those mo- 
ments in which Joan becomes increasingly help- 
less in the face of the questions directed at her by 
her judges, who press proportionately closer. 

In such scenes Dreyer diminishes the camera- 
distance from his object, while through quickened 
action and a lightning-like change of pictures, the 
broad rhythmic structure becomes interrupted. 

Beast-like, the heads of the priests from out of 
the depth of the picture, drive into the foreground. 

A brilliant example of this montage-treatment 
is the following scene: 

CLOSE UP: The head of Joan, front view. 

To her right — - — - 
The head of a priest in profile. 
The priest scolds at Joan. 


FLASHES ; Head of Joan — Head of priest 

— lower face, priest 


" — Mouth of priest, very 


Upon her cheek the spit of the priest. Joan in 
such scenes actually steps out of her static reserve 
and moves with purely pantomimic gesture and 
emotion within the frame of the picture. 

As already mentioned, with the scene of torture 
starts an important acceleration in the rhythmical 

Without appealing to the lower instincts of the 
spectator, this scene carries an immense, impressive 
power- .The spectator receives, so to speak, "an 
aesthetic emotional shock." • He is swept away by 
the rhythmic action and he experiences the swoon- 
ing of Joan. 

Just as the complete scenic architecture has been 
maintained throughout in white, so also has the 
torture chamber been kept in white. Any kind 
of medieval, mystically shrouded atmosphere has 
been carefully avoided. 

Through a compelling door, Joan steps into 
this glaring white, cruel reality. 

For the psychology of the inquisitors Dreyer 
finds the most eloquent plastic material. To be 
sure and not to miss anything of the approaching 
spectacle, a priest, amidst the repressed excitement, 
gets a chair from the farthest corner of the room. 
Holding it high, he swings it across the heads of 
the others and places it in the front row. 

The age of torture becomes completely revealed 
in its blunderings and its perversity, and stands 
clearly condemned. 

(The camera follows the chair as it is being 
carried through the room) . 

A flash-shot displays the torture chamber in 
its totality- Fantastic machines and large wheels 
(black against the white background) create a 
foreboding of something dreadful. As quickly as , 



this static scene is withdrawn from the eye, nev- 
ertheless as forcefully the impression is held. The 
future proceeding in all its horror is foretold. 
Immovable in the foreground stands the attendant 
of the torture instruments. Significant in his in- 
significant corporality. 

In close range, one beholds how a certain fluid 
is poured through a funnel. An array of funnels 
is shown graduating in size. Next, an array of 
saws, in the same order. The arrangement in its 
gradation indicates the degrees of torture (mon- 
tage-type of association) . 

At the sight of these instruments Joan impresses 
upon her judges that "even if she should confess 
under torture, she would later recall everything." 

And now the attendant turns one of the big 
wheels of a kind of revolving machine. 

From a new angle one sees the broad side of 
the large wheel, spiked with hundreds of nails, 
turning from the upper side of the picture towards 
the lower. 

By way of a masterful montage-construction 
Dreyer pulls the emotional-condition of the spec- 
tator into a mad whirl. He cuts continuously 
back and forth, from the revolving wheel to Joan; 
in each montage-picture the large wheel turns 
faster and faster, simultaneously drawing closer 
and closer into the frame, until finally, covering 
the whole screen, it reaches the point of culmina- 
tion when Joan faints away. 

And here the filmic rhythm falls back into a 
broader line. 

In the bleeding scene that follows I would like 
to point out an important moment. 

With one hand the surgeon stretches the skin 
of Joan's arm. The other, holding a knife, he 
raises to cut. ■ 

The blade-point of the knife is set tight against 
the skin, so that the spectator expects to see a cut 
and the blood oozing, — but — - the hand holding 
the knife stops short, — in order to make im- 
mediately another attempt. 

At this instant, Dreyer cuts into a new scene, 
i. e., to a priest, followed by the camera which 
moves from right to left as he passes along a hall- 

It is seldom that Dreyer chooses from a tradi- 
tionally-optical horizontal angle. 

The possibilities of a photographic apparatus 
were applied by him to their fullest creative extent. 
Our eyes which are governed by certain laws of as- 
sociation, are being educated here to an entirely 
new sight, and actually the vision gains signifi- 
cance, plasticity and depth. 

One is astonished at the variety and power of 
these new, optically created forms. 

For example, the first exterior shot is taken 
slantwise, downward at a stone-paved surface. 
In the foreground only legs, walking, are seen. 
In the background, in perspective shortening, the 
people become visible, into full view. 

The atmospheric weight of this scene lies in the 
legs on the ground, on their way to the cemetery. 

The polaric dramatic tension of the scene at the 
cemetery is held by the executive priest and Joan. 

Slantwise, looking upwards, the priest is caught 
standing behind a high desk in such a way, that 

the edges of his desk where they run together form 
a triangle, facing the camera. 

Figuratively speaking, Dreyer also, carries the 
action to extremes. 

Quickly, facing the camera, the priest directs 
his questions at Joan and places her at the choice 
between life ^nd death. 

He points to a grave that is being dug. She 
glances over, and beholds a row of flowers, as they 
are blown by the wind. {Moving shot to the 
flowers in opposition to the static shot of the 
grave) . 

With this comparative reflection (contrast- 
montage) Joan decides to save her life by abdica- 
tion, and becoming for the first time, unfaithful 
to herself, she signs the document. 

The crowd, having gathered around this scene, 
rushes back to the county-fair. 

Taken back to her cell, Joan has to submit to 
the cutting of her hair- 

Parallel with this action one sees again the 
county fair, the masses in their yearning curiosity 
for change, for a spectacle. Already they have 
forgotten Joan. 

And now, in the cell upon the floor, Joan's 
hair is being swept up by a servant, with the hair 
also her selfwoven crown of cord. 

Her kingdom being swept away thus, before 
her eyes, suddenly she realizes what she has done, 
and she screams for revocation. 

Resultant verdict: Death at the Stake. 

From now on, the rhythmic structure of its 
line of motion mounts in steep ascendency towards 
the highpoinc, towards the solution, towards the 

All of a sudden Dreyer's camera becomes extra- 
ordinarily mobile. The following scenic construc- 
tion is drawn into the rhythm of the flames. 

After the preparation for the burning has 
been completed, (such as carrying of stones, wood, 
raising of pole, nailing of the parchment with 
the accusation to the pole) , and after the crowd 
has deserted the county-fair and comes rushing 
once more towards the stake, Dreyer divides, with 
Joan's walk to the square of execution, to the wood 
pile and stake, the scenic structure into different 
actions and movements, each of which falls into 
a shorter and quicker tempo the faster the burning 
process advances. 

The 5 elements of motion, above mentioned, 
are mounted within each other. 
( 1 ) Doves 

(2) Fire 

(3) Priest 

(4) Crowd 

(5) Joan as the centre. 

(1) — In the plastic material of the DOVES, 
Dreyer finds for Joan a continuous psychological 
process, a most expressive and moving symbol. 

As Joan walks to the place of execution, a 
... frightened flock of doves soars upward- 

Thereupon, after some other scenes mounted in 
between, the doves light on the highest cross 
of the church tower. 

Further scenes of the process of burning are 
mounted in between. 


In formation a flock of doves flies up into the 

Further scenes of the burning-process in be- 

The formation of doves flies higher. 

Further scenes of the burning-process in be- 

The doves fly still higher. 

Further scenes of the burning-process in be- 

The doves are high, at a vast expanse from the 
earth; they are visible merely as little specks. 

The "pure soul" is carried by the doves (de- 
liverance) into infinity. Simultaneously they re- 
present for Joan a medium of overcoming the 
agony. From the cross and the doves she receives 
the capacity of overcoming. 

(2) — The FIRE, the process of burning, re- 
presents the rhythmical counterpoint. 

The higher the doves soar, the faster the flames 
devour, and the whole procedure is enveloped in an 

Later on, wnen Joan has disappeared from the 
stake, when the parchment, as if in anguish, has 
burned, its ashes blown to the winds, and when 
only the bare pole with the nail remains in sight, 
then all human arrogance of judgment stands 
stripped to its basest nakedness. 

The camera shows the burning stake from all 
angles. In constant repetitive back-and-forth 
movements it catches the flames. 

(3) — and 

(4) _ PRIESTS and CROWD plus FIRE (2) 
form together a rhythmic collective. 

Again and again the priest is shown. The 
tall cross held by him towards Joan, becomes like 
Joan, smoke-enveloped, and is smoked out. 

With frantic entreaty he screams his prayers 
to drive out the devil that is not there. 

The action here starts its development moving 
into a regulated function of antithesis, (Heracl- 
itus) , as the crowd is itself, with the beginning of 
the insurrection, goaded by the devil. 

The brutal mass, the people, are caught here 
specifically, in that Dreyer continuously cuts in 
with varied types in their reaction to Joan. 

Camera movements to right, to left, upwards 
and downwards. 

(5) — To all this, JOAN remains the center. 
Everything reacts towards her- Optically to her 

Stirring, how she lifts her own shackles ! The 
camera follows the movement exactly as she as- 
cends the stake. 

Joan then becomes the personification of the 
"God forgive them, for they know not what they 

Up to the start of the fire, she feels the sedative 
of a drink, which a peasant woman had extended 
to her on her way to the stake. 

Her trembling nostrils betray the first sign that 
the stake is burning. Then the fire itself be- 
comes evident. 

Her last words are: 

(The length of this title is held at such a short 
tempo that it appears as if these words had escaped 
her mouth with her last breath) . 

With her last words, a spark of intuitive realiza- 

tion strikes the mass of people. One of them turns 
around and screams: 

And with that, the devil whom they wanted to 
drive out from her, turns into them, and destruc- 
tion revolt, chaos follow. The eternal struggle 
over belief, over the Deity. 

Dreyer shows the course of the struggle in an 
optical distortion. The eye is forced to follow 
the discordant change of black and white. The 
thought-response of the spectator becomes difficult. 
The scenic confusion also bewilders the spectator. 

Demonstrated graphically, the sequence at the 
stake represents upon the screen 5 major points of 

The pole with Joan as middle-point (5) creates 
a vertical, which moves from the screen-center, 
Joan's head, partly upward, into the irrational, the 
doves (1), and partly downward, towards the 
burning pile (2) . 

The mad-house, the world, the county-fair (4) 
and the church (3) move in the rhythm of the 
blazing flame (2) rotating faster and faster around 
the pole where Joan is bound. 

This film is no doubt the most completely at- 
tainable form of the "silent era.'' 

A masterpiece, such as The Passion of Joan of 
Arc, has a right to be called a classic, for it pos- 
sesses lasting merit. 

As the "film" represents in itself a collective art- 
form, and depends entirely upon technique, the 
"talkies" today present the antithesis. 

With relentless logical necessity, however, we 
are stepping out of the present-day forms and 
dilemma of styles into the purest and most complete 
film-form, the filmic synthesis. 

With the harmony of light (picture) and tone- 
value (music) we come to the 



Constructive critical comment on the collective 

montage of Joan of Arc. 

In the first part of the film, in order to break down some- 
what, the justified monotony, the distances of close-ups from 
Joan to the priests should have been from the very beginning 
increasingly widened. 

Then, with the idea of advancing towards a circularly 
diminishing enclosure, the possibility lies open to 
lessen by degrees the distances, i. e., in gradually drawing the 
priests closer and closer to the camera. 

Simultaneously with the advance of the circle, straining to 
close in on Joan, more and more the priests- should have been 
shown collectively, in order to emphasize in contrast their 
basically psychological difference. 

The screen-surface thus, first, through the constant dos- 
ing-in of the camera upon the single heads, would become 
gradually filled, and secondly, at the same time, by the in- 
creasing number of heads at the final encircling of Joan, the 
surface would become completely covered, so that no open 
space would be left. 

This type of montage would permit a greater play of ten- 
sion, and upon this path of the purely "optical" (not 
rhythmical) the monotony of the rhythm would become re- 

Constructive critical comment on the Individual Montage. 

MEDIUM SHOT: Pantomimically a priest, with his 
lifted forefinger, gives significance to the words: 

TITLE: "We, the church, gather the sheep that have 
lost their way." 

CLOSE-UP of the hand with the pointed index-finger 
should have been cut in at this point, to symbolize the col- 
lective church-idea. 




Motion : The Medium of the Movie 


THE limitations of an art give to it individual 
character. In the limitations of the medium, 
the artist finds a means of stimulating rather 
than of restricting his expression. With every med- 
ium for art expression the mechanics through which 
form is realized are inherent in the nature of the 
medium itself. The dramatist thinks in terms 
of speech, the sculptor in .erms of day 
and marble; the composer and musician in 
terms of sound; the writer in terms of words; the 
maker of. motion pictures in terms of motion and 
light. To express an idea belonging to a particular 
medium through the mechanics of another medium 
results in the negation of both forms. To apply, 
let us say, sound, speech, color and text or words 
to the medium of filmic motion subjects the me- 
chanics of these various media to an arbitrary, false 
technic which emphasizes its limitations as weak- 
nesses rather than as potentialities. A relation 
between the thought to be conveyed and the means 
used to express it does not exist. The result is a 
hybrid form. 

For the most part producers in American studios 
have been content to adapt the mechanics of other 
arts to the films rather than to develop to the ut- 
most the poss bilities of filmic motion as a medium. 
Thus, they have borrowed from the stage, from 
literature, from music, from painting. By bor- 
rowing from other art forms the picture makers 
have hindered the logical development of the movie, 
insofar as they have consciously or unconsciously 
repressed the creative impulse in the industry to- 
wards the development of the motion picture as an 
art. When the medium is impeccably handled, 
whether in painting, music, the theatre or the cin- 
ema, there is no separation between the idea ex- 
pressed and the medium through which it is ex- 
pressed. In view of the misunderstanding that 
has been caused by novelties such as the talking 
and sound films, it behooves all of us who are in 
any way identified with or interested in the mo- 
tion picture to ask ourselves critically, "What is 
filmic motion as a medium?" 

Ever since the producers deserted the early man- 
ifestations of motion in slapstick and old-fashioned 
melodramatic action in the movie for the dubious 
practice of adapting the mechanics of other media 
to that of the motion picture, the American silent 
film has remained, artistically speaking, in a rut. 
To be sure, the picture makers naively hoped to 
improve the films by reason of these literary, the- 
atrical and statically pictorial embellishments, but 
they succeeded merely in increasing the difficulties 
of production. Unhappily, they failed to re- 
cognize the most significant element in the films: 
The mounting of filmic motion — without which 
there could be no motion pictures ... no images, 
patterns, masses or lines in motion. 

Since motion breaks down the static scene, the 
static visual composition, it has no connection with 
the laws of design and movement as applied to 
painting and pictorial composition. However 
much painting may suggest movement of pattern 
and line, mass and volume, it is static whereas 
the movie gives continuous mobility to these 

Since filmic motion conveys thoughts by means 
of a succession of flowing images, it has no connec- 
tion with the medium of words. 
* * * 

Since the images in motion are silent, then mo- 
tion as a medium has no connection with nor re- 
lation to music and the mechanical devices for the 
reproduction of sound. \ Objects and images in 
motion can graphically suggest sound in the mind 
of the spectator as has been proved by every mo- 
tion picture true to the medium, from Mack Sen- 
nett's slapstick comedies to the more sophisticated 
films like Potemkin, The End of St. Petersburg, 
The Crowd and The Last Laugh. 

The medium of motion has nothing in common 
with the medium of speech nor with the conven- 
tional movements of the stage in the expression 
of human emotion. 

Since motion is the only medium which tells a 
story or conveys thought and feeling by means of 
flowing images, the conjunction of pieces in a film 
strip, the organization of sequences, and the varia- 
tion of their tempo, it is self-sufficient like any in- 
dependent art form. 

A decade and a half ago the motion picture 
seemed to be on the right track. At that time the 
movie dealt in motion — in the medium true to 
itself. It gave small heed to the stage, particularly 
to a stage out of tempo with its age; it gave no 
heed to literature, nor to any of the other in- 
dependent art media. 

# % ^¥ 

Producers with aspirations, box-office and other- 
wise, sought to improve the screen by imitating 
the narrative manner of the stage play. This 
imitation of theatre transferred the slow tempo 
of the stage to the movie and interrupted the 
logical flow of images inherent in the nature of 
the medium of motion. On the screen, space is 
complementary to motion. Space implies depth 
and is necessay for the movement of objects and 
bodies in any given direction, thereby imparting to 
the motion picture a scope of visual appeal that 
cannot be achieved by the necessarily slower tempo 
and restricted movement of the stage or of the talk- 
ing film. The slow tempo of dialogue films and 
of the stage production is due to the slow move- 
ment of objects, to static patterns, and to limited 
command of depth, pace and space for the exten- 
sion of movement. Whenever a film, as frequent- 



ly happens in the case of the dialogue films, slows 
down to a degree which makes it possible for the 
eye deliberately to take in an object or image on 
the screen, and when the mind is conscious of the 
passage of time in the act of optical scrunity, then 
the film is too nearly static to be a motion picture. 
Motion does not permit the eye to focus on an 
image for a long period of time. That is what 
precisely happens on the stage or in the talking 
film. This absence of motion limits the degree 
of emotional and visual appeal, for it is the never 
ending patterns in motion moving through space 
on different planes, and, building up to, a totaluy 
concept that heighten the dynamics of the silent 

% ^c ^ 

Farsighted. prophetic directors and technicians 
of the theatre, like Adolphe Appia, Oskar Strnad 
and Adolph Linnebach, have tried to adjust the 
mechanics of the theatre to the tempo of our times 
by seeking to solve the limitations of space on the 
conventional stage (which producers of dialogue 
films have brought to the screen) only to realize 
that no theatre stage can ever be spacious enough 
for the depth and varies of motion necessitated 
by the motion picture. Several years ago, Linne- 
bach at the Printz Regenten Theatre in Munich 
predicted that the technique of stage production 
would have to adapt a quicker tempo by a rapid 
shifting of scenes similar to, but not like, that of 
the movie. Thus, while the best technicians in 
the modern European theatre seek to overcome the 
spatial limitations of the stage, American producers 
of dialogue films have brought to the screen the 
limitations of the conventional speaking stage. 

When Griffith achieved his phenomenal suc- 
cess with The Birth of a Nation, producers seemed 
as blind then to the reason for the success of this 
film as they are to-day to the dynamics of the 
movie. If they had been sensitive of the drama of 
motion as it is revealed in this Griffith epic, and 
which method of mounting Griffith himself has 
abandoned, they would have seen that it was the 
way in which the director had organized the se- 
quences of patterns, the short scenes and quick cuts 
and particularly the fragments of objects and 
images in motion, which imparted such dynamic 
power to The Birth of a Nation. Producers did 
not observe that the motion of the patterns and 
images, their building up to an idea or concept, 
rather than Mae Marsh and the Gishes, served to 
develop the emotional appeal — that the same mo- 
tion, if enacted by other players, would have been 
just as effective. People who were spectators of 
The Birth of a Nation, remember the motion, but 
have forgotten the players. However, for purely 
box-office reasons Mae Marsh, the Gishes and other 
players were made stars by the producers. The 
fact is, that if Griffith had mounted The Birth of 
a Nation in the later narrative manner of most 
conventional films, neither that picture nor the 
players in it would have created a lasting impres- 

The development of stars brought about the 
exploitation of personalities — and the exploita- 

tion of personalities arrested the development of 
films true to their medium Motion. Scenarios 
and photoplays were adjusted to the star, with 
the result that requirements of the medium re- 
ceived secondary attention. The medium was de- 
based to enhance the player, instead of the player 
being fitted to the medium and the creative de- 
mands of mounting. Thus has motion as a me- 
dium suffered neglect- 

That Charles Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks 
have held their own in American pictures longer 
than other players is due chiefly to the fact that 
they have been truer to the nature of the medium 
and pursued their own course independent of pro- 
ducers who never understood motion as an art. In- 
tellectually and artistically blind to the magic of 
motion, most producers and directors have utilized 
the close-up with abandon — the producer be- 
cause the high salaries paid the stars warranted 
much exhibition of their faces; the director because 
it was an escape from the difficulties of thinking 
in terms of motion, and building up an idea 
through the composite effect of non-narrative 
images. With most stars as indifferent to the 
medium as the producers, of course they agreed 
to the non-cinematic use of the close-up, and as 
is known in the industry, many stars insisted that 
contracts specify a certain number of close-ups in 

each picture. 

% ^ * 

The more close-ups there were without drama- 
tic reason the greater was the neglect of motion. 
For years, the film has been kept from function- 
ing in accordance with its own inherent nature un- 
til audiences tired of the lazy, narrative technic and 
its sentimental absurdities. They began to find 
more drama in motion by driving cars, dancing, 
watching ball games, attending prize fights, foot- 
ball games, horse races, aeroplane meets, than in 
observing the picturization of stage scenes in front 
of stage sets and reading the explanatory titles 
that the movies have offered. When people dis- 
covered they could get the drama of motion else- 
where than in .'he movie house, the film merchant 
thought that the public had wearied of motion 
pictures. The truth is that comparatively few 
pictures have been made which were mounted in 
harmony wit.i the medium of motion. The pub- 
lic never tired of motion pictures because there 
never has been an over-supply of such films. Ra- 
ther they had grown weary of pictures not true 
to the medium and of photographed "kitsch" de- 
termined by the sanctified tabooes of Will H. 

Instead of realizing the situation, correcting it 
by adjusting production to the demands of the 
medium, or better yet, by developing directors 
from the ranks of artists who think naturally in 
terms of images and patterns, and by encouraging 
writers to plan scenarios in terms of motion and 
life, the producers continued to go from bad to 
worse and in their last extremity adopted the 
dialogue film. 

To attribute the spiritless quality of many mo- 
tion pictures to the mechanical characteristics of 





of | 
of II 
d r 


It is 


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and s 


a pro; 
torn t 



the camera and the projector is an empty excuse 
for the inability to create significant, powerful 
patterns and images in the medium. Especially 
is this true when we note that the camera can be 
used to create and distort forms as well as to take 
them realistically, and that the projector can 
heighten moments of drama by increasing the 
tempo of the images as well as the dimensions of 
the screen- But these, although important factors, 
including three dimensional effects, reflecting sur- 
faces, the elastic screen, flexible lens and other de,- 
vices, are incidental to the one basic principle of 
the motion picture: Motion. To brand the me- 
chanics of the motion picture as limitations in the 
way of its remaining a creative art is on a par with 
decrying the piano because its limitations are cop- 
per wire and ivory keys; or painting because its 
tools are oil, turpentine, color, canvas and brushes 
of pig bristle. 

The application of thought and feeling to the 
mechanics of an art medium determines the quality 
and degree of artistry in the finished product — 
whether a sonata, a portrait, or a motion picture- 
Among the followers of every art there are hacks, 
inevitably; and in the cinema it is the hacks among 
directors and producers who are most vociferous 
about the mixture of speech, sound and color with 
motion. They are vocifereous because they have 
shown themselves unable to cope with the magic 
of motion and have produced shadows of animat- 
ed puppets instead of- real motion pictures. Shall 
we confuse the limitations of the motion picture 
with the incapacity of directors and producers? 
It is as if a pianist blamed the wires and ivory keys 
of the instrument for his inability to play like a 

^ ^ ^ 

Since the principles of each art medium are the 
same as regards structure, flow, rhythm and im- 
agery, they function in such a way as to give purity 
to each medium. The more completely anything 
creative is done in its own medium, the less satis- 
factory it will be in any other medium. There 
is no order in an art form made to absorb the me- 
chanics of other art forms. The motion picture is 
the only art medium which gives expression to 
emotion and ideas through images in motion, light 
and space, thereby reflecting the dynamics of our 
period. That these images ordinarily appear on 
a film as the result of having been recorded by a 
camera and transferred to the screen by means of 
a projector, is wholly secondary to motion. The 
makers of motion pictures will find they must re- 
turn to these first principles: 

1 — The medium of cinematic art is motion. 
2 — Motion as an art medium is self-sufficient 
and has no affinity to such media as 
words (away with explanatory sub- 
titles) , music (sound) , speech (spoken 
titles ) , or painting (color and static de- 
sign) . 
3 — Motion applied to a succession of images 
can transmit thought, stimulate emotion, 
indicate time, place, character, sound, 
speech, atmosphere, physical sensation and 
state of mind. 

4 — Motion, when utilized as an art medium 
by artists, has proved the motion picture 
a major art form, logically independent, 
inevitab*/ self-sufficient and utterly free 
of intrusion by the mechanics of any 
other medium. 

Chaplin has done it. Fairbanks at times has 
done it. Murnau. Pabst, Dupont and others have 
done it. And the Russians, Eisenstein, Dovshen- 
ko and Pudowkin, with the application of their 
principles of montage, are carrying the art of mo- 
tion further than anybody to-day. The motion 
picture — the picture based on motion and the 
calculated mounting of images that command 
spectator attention — has never failed to be im- 
pressive, even when built upon themes of simple 
content- The medium of motion as rhythmical- 
ly applied to patterns, images and themes, demands 
the control by artists. The necessity of the mo- 
tion picture is obedience to the characteristics of 
its medium, — a medium which only artists in 
imagery can use with creative, stimulating effect 
for the enrichment of the screen and Man's im- 

A Preface to Film Form 

The Cinema, a medium capable of aesthetic 
expression, sensitive and profound as any of the 
arts, is deliberately going to waste through the 
trickeries, fictions, criticism and conventions, in the 
jargon and definitions of the other art media. 
Very little that is original in the cinema's exclusive 
mode of truth or beauty has as yet been unreeled: 
and by truth or beauty in the cinema sense, I mean 
immeasurably more than the composition (or tone) 
of a pictorialism, or the pulchritude of a mari- 

In America the cinema has become a parasitic 
medium conditioned for sex nomads and day- 
dreamers. Its plastics are projected upon the most 
melodramatic aspects of behavior; a fetish is made 
of the cinema's fact recording powers, and its cel- 
luloid marionettes arc deified. Sociologically the 
American film is superficial; its environments are 
entombed in sentimental implications, and the con- 
ventions of its relations (psychological as well as 
cineplastic) are an imposition. 

The men who direct these films have been re- 
cruited from their associations wtih the other arts; 
theatre, literature, painting. These novices to the 
film medium, instead of defining its hard differ- 
ences and unique capabilities, instead of allowing 
the plasticities of its instruments to limit and gov- 
ern their visions, project their celluloid results in 
concocted plastics (funded from their previous 
aesthetic pilferings) and moral recipes suited to 
the evanescent demand of the many. To their 
(directors) abusive treatment of the medium's 
properties for expression can be blamed the cinema's 
stunted aesthetic growth, its 'particular' lethargy. 




It was not until the projection of the Soviet 
film "Potemkin" that the cinema became aware 
of its individaality. "Potemkin" was the first 
film to break away from the multitude of static 
reproductions of lighted scenes, of idiotic facial 
distortions, of declamatory emotions, and of un- 
related and over-emphasized projections. Eisen- 
stein, the film's director, replaced the usual nebul- 
ous movie manikins, with characters from real 
life; ludicrous sets, with direct setting; arty photo- 
graphic effects, with a cinematic flexibility of cam- 
era organization. Eisenstein achieved his results 
not by any emphasis of actor or acting, plot or 
setting, but by an arithmetical relationship of the 
projection of images in time, movement and image 
content; each projection of image in movement 
and time paralleled and reverted and carried the 
component projections in a rhythmic, and psy- 
chological relation to one another, and at the same 
time unreeled F.isenstein's 'theme' in cadences strict- 
ly cineplastic. As a result the spectators reactions 
arose from this organized relation of the cinematic 
(thence structural) elements in the film, move- 
ment, image and time, in preference to the usual 
relations such as acting, decor, dynamite plot, or 
pictorialism, but which would not have as valid 
an aesthetic cinema significance. 

Omitting the few abstract films for the moment, 
"Potemkin" was the beginning of aesthetic form in 
the cinema insofar as it was the first instance of 
a film which expressed the esesntial idea (theme) 
in terms of cinema and came into existence only 
and entirely through the particular of its medium 
— the film. 

The cinema's particular means, the language 
that distinguishes the cinema from other media of 
expression is inherent and intrinsic to the motion 
picture camera and projector. Its vocabulary is 
generally known (fades, dissolves, pams, tilts, 
lense changes, masks, iris, slow motion, cuts, etc. 
etc.). Each of these cinematic factors contain 
values for psychological and cineplastic progression 
in a film, and unite to project a whole which con- 
sists of and exists by them all. They are the struc- 
tural units for film form, cineplastic form, and 
unless they are used for purposes other than a mere 
reproduction of people or things, nothing of 
aesthetic value will unreel. The arrangement and 
content of as well as in the cinematic units, is part 
of the cineplastic idea. In proportion as these 
cinematic units embody the essence of a thing or 
situation, and the director's knowledge of sym- 
metry composition, synthesis, in the cineplastic 
sense of those terms; the film will be good. Cin- 
eplastic form then is produced by the arrangements 
and co-ordination of the differentiation of the cin- 
ematic units, and not of the cinema contents, such 
as acting, setting, or pictorialisms. 

The arrangements or the relations of the con- 
tent factors before "shot" is not necessarily a sign 
of cineplastic value. A director must be able to 
understand the mutual dependence of the successive 
content factors and to co-ordinate them with cin- 
ematic units into a unified whole. The first re- 
lationship is established by MOVEMENT (mo- 

bile camera, pams, tilts, lense changes, cuts, dis- 
solves, tempo, camera changes), TIME (speed, 
interval and duration of objects, cinematic units 
and movements) . The second coherence is 
dependent upon IMAGERY (subject matter in its 
highest organization, cinematically, psychological- 
ly, compositionally) . A cineplastic ensemble is 
established by the introduction of organization, 
rhythm, design. The laws of such cineplastic ar- 
rangements are identical with the laws which gov- 
ern all psychological and physiological activities. 

An analogy can be made with the painter who 
from his element of color, produces line, light, 
space, solidity, and other color. He makes a pat- 
tern of each of these factors and relates each to the 
other in a complete design; lines are related to other 
lines, light to other light, space to space, solids to 
solids, (all by the intermediary of color) and from 
the interrelations the painter achieves a quality 
known as form; plastic form. This plastic form 
is rated in proportion as the integration between 
subforms and content is complete, original, a per- 
sonal unification to express universal values. 

In a similar manner the film director proceeds, 
relating Time to Time (speed, interval and dura- 
tion of objects, movements and cinematic units) 
Movement to Movement (mobile camera, pams, 
tilts, lense changes, cuts, dissolves, tempo, camera 
changes) and Image to Image (subject matter in 
its highest organization, cinematically, psychol- 
ogically and compositionally) ; a certain number 
and kinds of cinematic units arranged and ordered 
at specific Time and projecting specific Images 
produce a cineplastic movement. A periodic varia- 
tion or accent of a number of such cineplastic move- 
ments interrelated, produce a cineplastic rhythms 
other rhythms different with regard to specific im- 
ages or combinations of movements or time values, 
but related in general psychological order, further 
diversify and amplify the cineplastic structure. 
Censorship note: An alteration of any unit in 
such an ensemble would destroy the existing rela- 
tions and ruin that particular psychological and 
cineplastic unity. It is this combination of all 
forms that constitutes value, aesthetically im- 
portant in proportion as the synthesis is complete; 
and despite the so-called limitations of the 
'mechanical medium' there does exist the greatest 
latitude for a director to integrate his content (sub- 
ject matter, theme) into cineplastic forms (organi- 
zation of movement, time, imagery) in which the 
only limitations are his experience and imagina- 

Leivts Jacobs 

EDITORS David Piatt-Lewis Jacobs 




CONTRIBUTORS — Alexander Bakshu. Leon Mous- 
sinac, Alberto Cavalcanti, Edward Weston. Christel 
Gang. Werner Klingler, Robert Aron. Richard Aid- 
rich. R. G. Braver-Mann, H. H. Horivitz, Jo Gercon. 




Principles of the New World-Cinema 

"Man is moved by his images, 
and only values experienced as 
an image are cogent to move 

— Waldo Frank. 


Being a Continuation of the Aesthetic and Struc- 
tural Principles of Soviet Cinematography, Includ- 
ing New Forms of Film-Montage. 

I Form and Purpose 

THE present is a period of emergence for the 
world-cinema. Everywhere, except chiefly 
in Hollywood and in England, the old struc- 
tural forms are disappearing, and new ones, in- 
digenous to film-art and no longer to literature 
and the other arts, are emerging. To use a some- 
what different figure, the world cinema-ball, 
traveling through a new, self-created space-time, 
has experienced a sudden great burst of momentum 
imparted through the shock of Soviet impetus. 
The two Anglo-Saxon countries, true to the char- 
acter of the present Anglo-Saxon decadence, that is 
boring like a deadly cancer through the Western 
world, have been cinematically unaffected by the 
film-technical revolution that started (pre-eminent- 
ly) with Potemkin. But except for these back- 
sliding nations, throughout the world the film may 
be noted as vastly (though of course not totally) 
freed from the lunacy of the Hollywood tradition- 

In particular, the year now closing has been 
significant for the fresh and startling acomplish- 
ments of Bolshevist cinematography. The Soviet 
film-artists have in this year not only surpassed 
their previous efforts, but established, in every point 
of formal structure and every concept of film r 
methodology, complete emancipation from the tyr- 
anny of the former world-conquering Hollywood 
film-methods. In every sphere, thanks to Soviet 
attainments, we can at last record the disestablish- 
ment of that false, commercially inspired American 
technique which, for fifteen years, has dominated 
and retarded the entire conception and technique 
of film-construction throughout the world. Art- 
istically and technically, thus far, Moscow has 
vanquished Hollywood. Not only in the domain 
of "realism" have the Soviet cinematographers 
demonstrated the American "school' to be com- 
posed of frauds and liars, but in every department 
of cinematic construction, in direction, photo- 
graphy, cutting, thematic structure and all sub- 
sidiary departments. In fact, it is a vital feature 
of Soviet film-triumph that the "department" 
(.that is, the departmentalization of creative activ- 
ity) no longer exists: Although recognizing the 
film as a collective art-form, the Russians, by grace 
of that inborn artistic character which makes the 
Slav at once superior to the Anglo-Saxon, has 
solved the problem of the creative dominance of 
the film by one master, by one master's vision and 
organic genius. (This, it is almost unnecessary 
to add, holds every bit as true of collaborative di- 
rection as of direction by one man. A powerful 
religious social understanding welds into a single 
dominant mind, such as Pudowkin's, into the fi'<n- 

structure) . Bolshevist cinematography has in this 
year enormously freed the world-screen from the 
commercial enslavement of Hollywood. More 
than that. It has outdone the splendid achieve- 
ments of its own first period. 

Taking a perspective-view of the period of Soviet 
cinematography now closing, Eisenstein observes: 
"I believe that only now can we begin to hazard 
a guess concerning the ways by which will be 
formed a genuine Soviet cinematography, i. e. a 
cinematography which not only in respect of its 
class attributes will be opposed to bourgeois ci- 
nematography, but which will also be categorically 
excellent in respect of its own methods*. Ten 
Days That Shook the World, although in certain 
ways, which I shall discuss, consummating this 
period of the Soviet screen, in certain other ways 
bears the germ - — and even the first fruit! — of 
this self-transcendence- As perhaps the most 
dynamic application known to date of a highly 
advanced montage-form, it challenges the film- 
students of the world to burrow deep into the 
problems of the ideological, film-culture that the 
Bolshevist cinematographers have developed. And 
in this connection, probably nothing represents 
a- more explosive liberation from the fettering no- 
tions of the Hollywood producers than the Arsenal 
of the Ukrainian director, Dovjenko. 

By way of introducing the more advanced pro- 
blems of film-montage to American and English 
readers, I consider it necessary to present a few 
of the outstanding elementary principles of film- 
construction formulated by W. L. Pudowkin in 
his manual entitled Film Regie Und Film Manu- 
skript — Film Direction and Film Manuscript. 
This manual, which was translated for me by Miss 
Christel Gang of Universal Studios, Universal 
City, California*, is indispensable to film stu- 
dents as the primer in the approach to cinematic 
technique and philosophy. 

Montage, emphasizes Pudowkin, does not mean 
merely what its literal translation implies: "mount- 
ing". Neither does it mean simply "cutting". 
The notion that montage is merely "a pasting to- 

*From an article by Eisenstein, The New Language of Cin- 
ematography, published in Close Up, May, 1929. 

*The kindness and efforts of Christel Gang, exercised through 
ier sensitive and meticulous translations of technical litera- 
ture from German into English, have made it possible for 
film-students in Hollywood and along the West Coast to 
become acquainted with a great deal of material that would 
otherwise still be inaccessible to them. Her translation of 
Pudowkin's book was made privately, for purpose of im- 
mediate reference, but arrangements are now being completed 
to publish it for the American market. Wherever material 
translated from the German appears in this paper, the trans- 
lation, unless otherwise indicated, is Miss Gang's. 



gether of the film-strips in their temporal succes- 
sion," writes Pudowkin, "is naive." Many 
times in this book Pudowkin offers definitive 
guiding notes on the particular powers, functions, 
and peculiarities of montage-construction. These 
laws and general principles, which constitute the 
basis of Russian film-ideology, form the very crux 
and essence of the correct construction of films; 
they also give us a vision of the present emergence 
of the screen into an art of colossal power. 

Page 59 — "Basically taken, montage is a force- 
ful steering of the thoughts of the 
spectator- If the montage is a sim- 
ple, unguided binding of the different 
pieces, it tells the spectator nothing." 
12 — "Montage is the creator of film- re- 
ality, and nature represents only the 
raw-material of the work that makes 
film-reality. This is the most de- 
cisive point in the relationship be- 
tween film and actuality." 
(Italics mine) . 
54 — "The picture is built out of the 
totality of small pieces." 
55 — -"There is no breaking-down, or in- 
terruption, but only a systematic, 
lawful building up." 
(This has reference to the close-up, 
which, Pudowkin states, when cor- 
rectly employed as part of the mon- 
tage-structure, is never felt as an in- 
terruption of the action, but- on the 
contrary, as a highly geared building- 
up of the action and the line of move- 
ment) . 
101— "The emotion can doubtless be con- 
veyed through the specific rhythm of 
the montage." 

(He cites Griffith as the only Amer- 
ican director to have accomplished 
this to any appreciable extent) . 
"The necessity, which guides the 
changing glance of the eye, coincides 
exactly with those laws which regu- 
late the correct building-up of the 

(This forms the optical, and there- 
fore purely descriptive, basis of mon- 
tage) . 
102— "MONTAGE is the HIGH POINT 
OF the CREATIVE WORK of the 
115 — "The director organizes every single 
scene; he analyzes it through reduc- 
tion (solution-analysis) into its ele- 
ments, and at the same time, he al- 
ready visualizes the union of these 
elements in montage." 

"Change of placement" montage is one of the 
cardinal points in the construction of the Russian 
film-dynamic. It is a two-fold means of camera 
utilization and optical attack. The conventional, 
well-known form is simply the shift of camera in 
plane, angle or general line of vision, taking the 
same action. It requires the photographing of two 
or more "shots". But there is another, more 
radical, form of placement-change montage, which 
the Russians have brought to a high degree of 
powerful effect. At the highest tension-points 
(study the film-strip of Potemkin, Mother, Ten 
Days, etc.), they "break" the individual image- 
element into a number of separate placements (but 
not into separate "shots"), which evidently, to 
judge from sections of the film-strip I have seen, 
is accomplished not by cutting (the "shot" is a 
constant: it is always the same "shot") but prob- 
ably by a stop-watch camera- The important 
consideration for this type of construction (which 
is really an analysis of the single scene, within it- 
self !) is that the "shot" is constantly itself, that 
is, the same "s:iot", and that it runs continuously 
on the strip without a patch (until, of course, 
the next scene begins) . The effect is that of an 
analytical totality and very strong. I shall deal 
more thoroughly with the structural precepts of 
the film-dynamic in my remarks on analytical 

I rehearse these points only because I realize 
how impoverished is the film-ideology of radical 
American cinematography, and because I am con- 
cerned to provide in a short space an adequate in- 
troduction to the elementary precepts of montage- 
construction before proceeding to the principles of 
the new cinematography. 

In an article, I expressed the view that "this 
book is to film-technique what Aristotle is to logic 
and Euclid to geometry — the first clear word and 
the first systematic document that is likely to be 
studied generations after its appearance." This 
opinion has been richly substantiated by the sub- 
sequent emergent development of Bolshevist cine- 
matography from the elementary principles here 
defined into a domain of abstract* cinematography 
which will ultimately lead the film to the very 
door of mind and fourth-dimensional representa- 
tion. "To say the truth," writes Pudowkin, "I 
fear my book has grown old. Incessant experi- 
mental cinematographic work, which progresses in 
U. S. S. R., has led us to new principles of mont- 
age, or, more correctly put, to a new development 
of old principles.** 

Perhaps this is true. But no beginning is com- 
plete without a perusal of at least the optical found- 
ations of montage which his book presents. 

*Not to be confused with the "abstract" cinematography of 
the French cinema, — that is, with technical laboratory ex- 
ercises, however important from certain points of view, such 
as Rien Que Les Hemes, Ballet Mechanique, A Quoi Revent 
Les Jeunes Films, etc. The abstract film, according to my 
ideology, belongs outside the working-sphere proper of mass- 
cinematography and can be of value only to limited groups 
of students who need cinematic "piano practice". 

**Fri$m a letter to me. 



The foundations of the new cinema that leads 
to mind carry us to the consideration of radical 
principles of vision (image-bases and fundaments) , 
organization and construction. The deepening 
connection between film-theory and film-practice 
not only justifies, but actually necessitates, such 
ideological structure and terminology as I have here 
built for the advancement of cinema throughout 
the world. 

We may see from the foregoing interesting and 
significant observations that the making of a film, 
after the basic underlying theme** has been decid- 
ed upon, is not a matter of romantic intuition, of 
helter-skelter shooting of haphazard putting-to- 
gether, or of cutting according to impulse, but is 
rather a matter of working out the mathematics 
of filmic form based on the calculation of the 
neural and psychological perception-reactions of the 
audience to optical sequences which are mounted 
in the order of an ever-heightening tension. The 
whole is an entity evolved out of the montage 
of its parts; therefore the "vision of the whole" 
must be always in mind. 

And with less stress on the structural, and more 
on the metaphysical side: 

To abide by so important a philosophical eva- 
luation of the essence of cinematography, requires, 
as may be instantly realized, (1 ) a mind sensitive- 
ly attuned to the tone of the image-music which, 
pictorially. expresses the image-reality of cinema, 
and (2) a methodology of practical film-con- 
struction that follows the path already so bril- 
liantly blazed by the Bolshevist producers. Per- 
haps no one has more finely sensed or more suc- 
cintly expressed the immense implications of the 
above point of view, in its relation to the new 
methodology of film-construction, than my friend 
and confrere, H. A. Potamkin. In the first of a 
series of important essays on the Phases of Cinema 
Unity*,, he wrote as follows: 

**By theme "I understand, and mean, the same thing that 
Pudowkin, Potamkin, Bakshy and others of this persuasion 
.mean: i. e.. not 'story' (especially as 'story' is understood 
and obeyed in the putrid, damaging, un-filmic tradition of 
Hollywood), but intrinsic subject-matter — fundamental, 
underlying, intellectual content — in a word, what I later in 
this essay name "the essential, radical, underlying image-' 

*Close Up, May, 19 29. 

"The entire film must be proconceived in 
anticipation of each detail I A curve or 
an angle, a close up or a fade-out, must 
not be recognized as an isolated detail, but 
as an inevitable part of an inevitable pat- 
tern. The whole disciplines the detail, 
the detail disciplines the whole. There is 
a more demanding logic than the logic of 
the psychology of a character at any mo- 
ment or the logic of the dramatic moment. 
There is the rythmic structure of the unit 
determining the moment. No such thing 
as a "shot" exists in the aesthetic sense of 
the cinema, whatever one may call the im- 
mediate taking of a scene. Films are 
rythms that commence and proceed, in 
which — ■ ideally — every moment, every 
point, refers back to all that has preceded 
and forward to all that follows. A stress 
or a deformation, an image or an absence 
of image, has validity only if it is justi- 
fied by the pattern up to point, and if it 
leads again to the pattern from that point." 
Words freighted with the Mosaic thunder of 
law ! Words rich in explicit injunctions of unity, 
universe-logic, universe-necessity, universe-majesty, 
that few will apprehend and fewer find possible 
of attainment .... Out of such words will emerge 
the images that will conquer man .... 

This definition of montage, and the appended 
comments, may be accepted as the axiomatic be- 
ginning-point in the entire ideological system of 
cinematography. They may be taken as the syn- 
thetically defined basis upon which rest all super- 
structural aesthetic and metaphysical considera- 
tions in the art of filming. 

The sphere of cinematographic work, so defined, 
may seem to circumscribe the field of practice to 
the exclusion of the so-called intuitive artist. This 
is precisely a state of affairs Eisenstein has willed 
and has striven to inaugurate. He has violently ban- 
ished intuition from the creative realm and ab- 
solutely denied it a single claim to existence in 
cinematography. His well-known statement, "I 
am an engineer by training, strictly utilitarian," 
etc. . . . My slogan is, "Down with intuitive crea- 
tion !" is expressive of the general tendency of 
Bolshevist ..'inematography. Pudowkin does not 
share this view. If they can achieve this long- 
sought goal, if they can rid creative cinematography 
of the handicap of intuitive "inspiration" and thus 
remove the film-structure from the constant danger 
of the creening-in of intellectually foreign elements, 
they will have accomplished another great thing. 
I cannot enter further into this phase of the mat- 
ter. It would take me too far into the vital mat- 
ter of the relation of the unconscious mind to the 
objective in age-reality of the film, a subject I shall 
treat separately. Let it suffice here to conclude that 
the creator of the film-reality, in order to fulfill 
these principles, must have a profound working- 
knowledge of the mathematics of film-form. By 
the mathematics of film-form, I mean, specifically, 
the analytical and synthetic treatment of the pic- 
ture in its sequences and individual parts. 

In Eisenstein we find a master of the mathema- 



tics of film-form, and the first to master it by an 
intensively intellectual, non-intuitive method. 
While it has been said that Pudowkin is "tradition- 
less", (in a sense that is outside the scope of my es- 
say), it is really Eisenstein, who, in this direction 
at least is traditionless- Pudowkin, while he is far 
above the rank and wildly unconceptual intuition- 
ism that furnishes the American, English and Ger- 
man producers their sole means of ('technique", 
leans towards Griffuh in certain intuitional phases 
of image-construction*. But in Eisenstein, we find 
the completest and most radical departure from 
anything resembling these methods. The insist- 
ent, religious reliance of Eisenstein on the general 
principles of modern science and mathematics for 
every structural point, for every characterization, 
for every movement. — in a word, for everything 
in the nature of cinematic effect and montage-ex 
pression, is one of the wonders of the' film-culture 
of U. S. S. R. This tendency may explain the 
accusation of a certain hardness and dis-individu- 
alized impersonality in his works, but according 
to my viewpoint all such charges are untrue, or, 
at best, superficial and therefore inaccurate. Eisen- 
stein chooses to project the tragedy of the mass, 
rather than that of the individual, in whom, as a 
result of a religious belief in a strict Marxian 
materialism, he does not believe. But the emo- 
tional force is there as much as in Pudowkin. The 
irony is equally savage, the bitterness equally 
vitriolic, the hatred of the Western bourgeois world 
equally fierce, the will to expose the lying decadent 
peoples of the West, is equally developed and ex- 
pressive. All the elements are there, and all of 
them are satisfying. The result of Eisenstein's 
ideology is the "explosive montage", of which Ten 
Days That Shook the World is the readiest and 
most significant example. Potemkin, which pro- 
ceeded along an image-graph of more compactly 
woven texture, contains the rudiments of Eisen- 
stein's montage in the October film- Ten Days, 
experimentally however unfulfilled in the abstract 
domain, is, by the least appraisal, a world-revela- 
tion in the montage of "movement-explosions" 
scientifically established. 

My digression on the directorial beliefs and in- 
tentions that are making for the re-formation of 
the new world-cinema would be incomplete in this 
phase if I neglected to mention perhaps the most 
interesting particular of all, the method of the 
world-famed Bolshevist director, Alexander Room. 
Room has himself stated his general method and 

"I want my camera to be like Roentgen, 
whose rays pierce through to the. innermost 
of our being. I want to project on the 
screen the very foundation of man in or- 
der that the analysis of determinate sensa- 
tions, of acts and thoughts, arc translated 
into luminous images. The academic pro- 
fessor Bescherew, who died recently, taught 

*It is interesting to note that Pudowkin's films, which are 
emotionally more violent than Eisenstein's. are the more 
popular. They concentrate more on the individual, and hence 
are more sympathetic. 

me long ago the science of human reflexes. 
"I devoted several years to the study of de- 
terminism, of psychic states, of the theory 
of repression, of Freud in particular and 
of diverse manifestations of fear, anguish, 
sorrow and love. All that I learnt has 
actually been of great service to me in the 
preparation of my actors." 
Could there be a clearer picture of the intent, 
seriousness and purposiveness of Soviet film-meth- 
ods? With this I am content to conclude my re- 
marks as to the factors of intuition and intellect 
in relation to the preparation of the montage. 

Analysis of montage-construction leads to a di- 
vision of the entire sphere. I establish it as a mat- 
ter of categorical expediency to attack all problems 
of montage-construction on either of two paths of 
construction: Labor on the film is labor on either 
MENTS. Briefly, the basic working-categories of 
montage arc dynamic montage and visual montage. 
There are no other divisions. There is no simpler 
way of handling the situation of film-construction. 
Under the montage of visual elements may be 
grouped the following items of artistic labor: 
Set construction 
(Scenic architecture) 
Printing (laboratory) 

Cleansing and preservation of the celluloid 
Under the montage of dynamic elements may be 
grouped the following items: 

Movement (tempo, rhythm, motion-anal- 
ysis, etc.) 
Continuity (and cutting) 
Camera operation. 
Under this may also be classified all other forms 
and functions of movement on the screen. 

The total montage-organization of the film is 
the result of the harmonization of visual montage 
with dynan./c montage. To "mount" a film 
means, in its entire sense, to mount visual film- 
elements in unity (co-ordination) with dynamic 
film-elements. A film may have a good (dynamic) 
montage. It may be. in continuity, cutting and in 
individual movement-forms, a fine piece of work. 
But the final montage-result will be spoiled or de- 
stroyed if the visual elements (the lighting, photo- 
graphy, printing, etc. ) are not in harmony with 
the pattern of the whole. But this condition of 
"harmony" (or unity) is not attained according 
to the methods of the present Hollywood photo- 
graphers who imagine they have only to flood 
every scene with light and have crystal-clear print- 
ing in order to make their films photographically 
(optically) "appealing". On the contrary, the 
scheme for the working-out of the visual montage 
must be carefully planned in joint consultation of 
'director and photographer. The exact degree of 
tonalization, the general distribution of light and 
shade throughout the film, (each scene envisioned 




. the 

ion 01 

in relation to the whole vision) , and the particular 
quality of this light and shade for the particular 
film at hand, are montage-matters of as vital con- 
cern to artistic cinematography as the problems of 
continuity and movement-montage. It is a mont- 
age of cinematic chiaroscuro that, in particular, 
is required. 

The montage of a film, therefore, is not only a 
montage of movement (dynamics) : it is also, and 
equally, a montage of optical and visual effects 
(visuals) . The Russian photographers have best 
understood these laws. To realize how much they 
have understood them, witness the astonishing 
work of such photographers as Tisse, Feldman, 
Golownia and Demutzki. 

The chief domain, however, of a film-ideology 
concerned with the fulfillment of form, is move- 
ment. The present period of world-cinemato- 
graphy, which has yielded so much of significance 
in Soviet production, marks the complete and al- 
most universal establishment and recognition of 
the nature of cinematography as plastic form, — 
as movement, (A recognition that comes almost 
too late) . To us today the axiom of movement 
seems a priori understood- Such an attitude, how- 
ever, is still actually without justification. We are 
in danger of forgetting that for fifteen years, most 
of the world has persistently failed (or refused) 
to think of cinema in its native terms and that 
this error of judgment (which, more than any- 
thing, caused the premature corruption of the pro- 
duction-mind and hence of the art) , has been hon- 
ored with perpetuation by the long-dreamed of 
triumph of the talking-film in the most conven- 
tional theatrical tradition. But among the world- 
minority who have best understood the film, the 
condition of movement and all its implications 
are acknowledged. The whole weight and test- 
imony of the radical critical tradition of the past 
fifteen years apotheosizes this concept into the holi- 
est law of the film. The father of film-aesthetics, 
fifteen years after having expressed the first princi- 
ple of cinematography, again develops a statement 
on movement as an article of undying cinematic 

"The only real thing in the motion picture 
is movement ... It is the failure to appraise 
at its true value the part played in the mo- 
tion picture by movement that has been 
responsible for the obsession with realistic 
effects which have dominated the greater 
number of film-directors since the early 
days of film-art. 

"Assuredly, the material of the motion pic- 
ture must be organized, but its organiza- 
tion should be of the nature of a dynamic 
pattern, in which each separate pictorial 
subject is balanced in relation to all other 
subjects while the component parts of each 
remain fluid in relation to one another. 
To enter as an element into a mobile form, 
the static picture has first of all to break 
down its equilibrium. It ceases therefore 
to be a "picture", and, with this, has no 
further use for the principles of design and 

composition as these are employed in the 
easel painting."* (Italics are mine). 

Death to every form that violates this law, the 
life-law of cinematography ! 

Death to the talking-film if its formal structure 
intrinsically threatens the film's chief means of il- 
lusion-power, which alone creates the new reality ! 

Death to any and every new form, invention or 
synchronization that destroys, or renders impos- 
sible, the montage-dynamics of cinematography! . 

The past year has yielded a more analytical and 
more conclusive statement on movement than any 
within my knowledge, by one who is perhaps Mr. 
Bakshy's most worshipful disciple — Potamkin- 
I offer it for consideration as the final essential 
preliminary to the study of my categories of dy- 
namic montage: 

"Movement is not succession of motions. In 
cinema movement, no motion may actually 
take place, but an interval may occur, an 
interval of time, between two images and 
that is movement. In other words, move- 
ments are two: the actual movement of a 
body, and the constructed movement at- 
tained through time and space-successions 
(in montage) . 

"The movement of a film is not cinematic 
unless it is plastic . . ." 

"Dynamics is just another name for the 
climacteric construction and organization of 
these various elements. It refers to the ac- 
cumulative forward march of the film." 
(Italics mine) . 

To use a filmic metaphor, the Bakshy-Potam- 
kin statements on movement are one and the same 
scene photographed from different angles and join- 
ed in montage. If the Potamkin statement is a 
far-flung extension of the father's original, bear- 
ing cinema closer to the distant horizon at a furi- 
ous rate of speed, the father's words, that " (film) 
organization should be of the nature of a dynamic 
pattern (etc.)", are holy law, to be defied only at 
the peril of demolishing the film entirely. 

We are only now at the point of determining 
just what are the forms by and through which the 
movements of the film (i. e., the movements of 
its physical action, the movement of the film in 
continuity-progression, the movements of its in- 
dividual, fragmented parts which constitute an in- 
tegration of its single major movements, etc.) may 
be mounted in order ( 1 ) to describe events and 
(2) to express image-ideas. The Bolshevist cin- 
ematographers have suggested some of these mont- 
age-forms. It is my purpose to submit and to dis- 
cuss new categories in the light of the present 
world-advancement of expressive cinematography. 

*From The Road to Art in the Motion Picture by Alexander 
Bakshy, published in The Theatre Arts Monthly of June, 
1927, — an essay for every film-student in the world. The 
appearance of this man twenty years ago as the first and 
classical film-aesthetician is an early, infallible indication of 
the priority of the Russians to mastery of the film. 





The six categories which I propose are: 


(Individually, Sequentially, Episodically, 
Organically, Compositionally) . 

(2) Montage of Static Group Combinations 

(3) Montage of the Transition from the Static 
to the Dynamic (and reverse) 

(4) Montage of the Continuance and the Di- 
rection of Movement, which includes the 
dynamics of the moving camera. 

(5) Montage of Objectification 


The progress of contemporary cinematography 
is towards a greater and greater, and deeper and 
deeper expressiveness. In its march towards mind, 
the film has increasing recourse to image-symbols, 
which are drawn from the deep well of the psy- 
chologic image-experience of the race of man. In 
grinding harder its scientifically found material, 
and in digging deeper into the experiential con- 
sciousness (the unconscious mind) of man, the 
film seeks to find those images, those symbols, 
those visual forms which may be useful in the task 
of re-conduioning the mind and soul of man. For 
this task, the cinematographers of our day (main- 
ly, if not only, the Bolshevists) , have recruited 
for their fighting image-forces the vast army of 
data and truths established by modern science. 
Pavlov, Freud, Adler, Jung, Bescherew, all schools 
and prominent "free lances" in the field of psy- 
chologic research, not to mention in the spheres of 
Psychopathology clinical psychiatry, chemistry, 
physics, mathematics, anthropology, ethnology, 
ethnography, etc., have been drafted for this stup- 
endous educational war against superstition, reli- 
gious dogma, patriotic "idealism"', nationalistic 
war propaganda (the concomitant of patriotism) 
and against the money-cults of the West. In a word 
contemporary cinematography resorts to the great 
reserve of modern education in order to combat 
the socially retrogressive factors which, throughout 
the world, are preparing the world for another 

In thus seeking to establish a language that will 
be felt, understood and accepted by the simple, 
elemental image-mind of man, cinematography is 
perforce traveling in the direction of a profounder, 
yet (for that very reason) more simply and intell- 
igible abstract image-form. The words of Pud- 
owkin are here to remind us again of this vitally 
significant trend: 

"Now, our work is directed to the develop- 
ment of methods of "expressive montage." 

♦When this essay was first written, last April, it was sum- 
mitted for critical examination, in criticizing it, David 
Piatt suggested that Naive or Detailed Synthetic Montage 
(a purely descriptive concept which originally formed the 
second division of the category of synthetic montage), "be 
subsumed under Analytical Montage (the decorative as op- 
posed to the structural)." Among numerous other modi- 
fications, this suggestion has been followed. 

This (new montage-form) means that the 
joining of the (film) -pieces will express 
and give the spectator the abstract "concep- 
tion" or immediate emotional state. This 
principle also extends to the joining of 
sound and visual pictures (sound pic- 
tures) ." 
The category of synthetic montage may, in cer- 
tain notable aspects, be considered as identical with 
the expressive montage-ideology of U. S- S. R. 
Under it, therefore, I group four other montage- 
forms, as being, although individually independent, 
collectively variations of the many methods of 
creating a synthetic montage. But, while all these 
forms may be utilized to attain a significant ex- 
pressive montage, synthetic montage, on the other 
hand, implies also something distinct and specific 
in the language of cinematography. 

Synthetic montage is expressive montage. But, 
deeper, synthetic montage is also the root and basis 
of new structural elements that function as means 
towards the creation of a philosophical synthetic 

a number of single images in immediate 
sequence, in order to form the effect of a 
single "action" (image) and to build that 
action up in its individual parts, if the ac- 
tion (image) truly represents the synthesis 
of an image-, dea. 

Differently expressed, the synthetic mon- 
tage gives the parts or fragments of an im- 
age-idea in immediate sequence in order to 
form the effect of an image-whole and thus 
to express its essence. 

The synthetic montage, broadly under- 
stood, is the montage of the image-idea of 
the sequence, of the episode or, as in the case 
of its broadest philosophical application, 
of the entire image-structure. 
This type of montage has already been confused 
with its hypothetical antithesis, the analytical 
montage. In my original essay on this subject, I 
maintained "naive or detailed"" synthetic mon- 
tage to be a variation of the entire category of 
synthetic montage. The above definition then 
stated that, "synthetic montage gives the frag- 
ments or parts of a scene, etc." But the term 
"scene" had to be changed in accordance with my 
acceptance of David Piatt's suggestion (referred 
to) , and also if a mere descriptive synthesis of 
fragments (details) were not to be confounded 
with the purely abstract or expressive character of 
my concept of synthesis. The entire trend and 
striving of the Soviet screen, as a matter of fact, 
has been a herculean intellectual effort to get away 
from purely descriptive, literal synthesis (naive or 
detailed synthesis) . Manifestly, this type of 
"synthesis" belonged under a different category, 
and this category, as Piatt has said, is analytical 

Another remark I find n is necessary to make is 
that the necessity of synthetic imagery "in im- 
mediate sequence" is determined by reference to the 
structural basis of the film, the limitation of im- 
mediacy vanishing, and the nature of "sequence" 



undergoing relative changes, according to whether 
the film is pronouncedly contrapuntal or not. The 
more contrapuntal in structure the visual-motor 
graph of the film is conceived, (this means also, 
the more violently it breaks with the stupid Hol- 
lywood tradition of "story-structure"), the less 
"immediate'' is the progression in which the part- 
icular image-fragments forming a synthetic image- 
idea occur in the "sequence" that they create. 

There can be true understanding of the two 
montage-forms, synthetic and analytical, only by 
studying the distinctions between them and as- 
signing to each its proper useful function in the 
construction of the film. These distinctions are 
not arbitrary, but are based on analysis of the 
actual structure of film-works- It is more than 
expediency: it is a real aesthetic determinant that 
requires sharp lines to be drawn here for the guid- 
ance and empowerment of the film-workers. 

The synthetic and analytical montage-forms are 
two distinct kinds. 

An analytical montage is any montage which 
analyzes the continuum of a single action and 
builds it up by dividing it into its salient progres- 
sive points of movement. 

Though it breaks up, it builds up. Its break- 
ing-up is its building-up. 

The analysis may or may not include inter- 
mediate seems. If no other scenes cue in between 
the analytical points of the action analyzed, it is 
a simple, straight analytical montage. 

But if there are scenes between the points of the 
analysis of the single action, the object committing 
(or the pe/son performing) this action on the 
screen is called, for reference and technical analysis, 
the "point of analysis". The basic object of 
analysis (that is. the particular "image-action" 
analyzed) is the structural point of analysis, and 
the parts (pieces of image-fragments) of the analy- 
sis made of this initial object, arc the functional 
points of analysis. (This terminology, of course, 
is strictly utilitarian, based on method and the 
stipulations of technical analysis) . 

Here we may avail ourselves of a useful analogy. 
We may at this point remark the interesting and 
useful parallelism between this analysis-division of 
a scene made in order to build up film-reality, and 
the idea of Aristotle, in that part of his Metaphys- 
ics which treats of the divisibility of motion, 

a suggestive analogy that will, in course of time, 
carry cinematography into more universal territory. 

Motion, according to the Greek philosopher, is 
divisible in two respects: 

(a) in respect of the time it occupies 

(b) in respect of the separate movements of 
the moving body. 

If we apply this primitive division of motion 
to the material which at the present time is the 
major film-stuff to be dealt with, and consider the 
relationship between the laws respectively govern- 
ing each, we see that the motion of every montage- 
scene has two points of structure from which to 
be analyzed. — temporal and spatial. A scene 
may be analyzed according to the tempo of 

(a) the action, or 

(b) the time-cutting, or 


(c) according to the points plane-space of 
the movement. 
a and b are temporal divisions, c is spatial. 

It must be borne in mind that I am not trying 
to construct a parallelistic metaphysic with Aris- 
totle as its starting-point. Such adherence to the 
cine-metaphysics of Aristotle's* universe (governed 
as it is by a motionless God, the product of the 
unfulfilled psycho-graphic experience of the Hel- 
lenes), would be unjustified if only out of con- 
sideration of the wealth of analogical instruction 
that a Bergson's motion-deified universe yields. I 
am merely attempting to suggest the way towards 
a true formulation of analytical montage-methods, 
and towards film-methodology in general. It will 
be recognized that between the divisibility Aris- 
totle found in the motion of the world-stuff and 
the divisibility of the motion of film-reality, as 
stipulated, there exists only a temporary analogy 
of identity, and the time is not far distant when 
the analogy between these two divisibilities will 
no longer suffice as suggestions of method, for the 
emergence of cinematography into spheres of 
hitherto unknown reality will extend the field, 
and create new possibilities, for complicated space 
and motion analyses. But now, although the 
mathematical philosophers of the present time have 
gone immeasurably beyond this, cinematography 
develops aesthetically, despite the colossal Bolshe- 
vist achievement, with a wearying slowness, due 
chiefly to the international effect of the damaging, 
retrogressive Hollywood influence. Without 
ignoring the world-significance of Griffith's early 
work, and particularly of the structural lessons of 
Intolerance, the film-revolutionary movement is 
confronted with the enormous task of combatting 
and vitiating this influence in every sphere of 

cinematographic work 

On the foregoing basis, an example of a simple 
analytical montage is the following: 
(From Polemkin) 

A sailor angrily smashes a plate which bears 
the words "Give Us Our Daily Bread". 
In this action he is photographed in three 
or four quick, successive flash-cuts, each of 
which shows us his hand as he raises it 
above his head, in the 3 or 4 points in the 
progression of its movement: 

(1) plate upraised above his head. 

(2) plate descending, face wrathful. 

(3) plate as it crashes on the table, 
sailor's face tense with anger. 

This is a remarkable study of the description 
of the sailor's emotion in its swiftly mounting 
stages. The smashing of the plate bearing the 
traditional religious slogan, has behind it many 
scenes of an opposite state of affairs, and a great 
many social overtones- The sailor's sudden, 
frenzied desire to smash, is expressed in a power- 
ful movement-analysis: the analytical montage of 
the entire action. 

An example of an analytical montage which in- 
cludes several different scenes is the following: 

(From Potemkin) : 


In the episode of the massacre on the Odessa 
steps, there is a sequence which shows the 
death of a young mother. She is first 
seen in a medium shot, standing against 
her baby carriage, trying to shield it from 
the downcoming Cossacks. But their guns 
find her, and a bullet pierces her stomach. 
The close-ups of her hands clutching at the 
abdomen, of her face rolling in agony, of 
her tottering form, of her sudden fall and 
death, and, finally, as a consequence of the 
fall the accidental releasing of the brake on 
the baby-carriage, which starts bouncing 
down the steps, are separated in the mon- 
tage-continuity of this sequence by long 
shots of the Cossacks and by close-ups of 
groups and faces in the fleeing masses. 
The girl is the structural point of analysis. 
The intercut images of the mass are the 
functional points of the entire image- 
analysis. The girl's death-movement is 
not mounted as a constant, unvaried unit, 
but each cut back to the girl's sinking body 
shows another section of the body. 
This is also an example of the division of move 
ment according to time-cutting: an analytical 
montage in which each cut back to the girl reveals 
her nearer to her death, nearer to sinking com- 
pletely on the stone steps. The last cut, follow- 
ing flash long-shots of the Cossacks, shows her 
just as she has fallen to the ground. 

Another example of an analytical montage in 
which the points of analysis are intercut by other 
scenes, and where the time-cutting of a single 
movement is forceful, is the following:* 
(From Potemkin) : 

The Marine Guard is called out on deck. 
The marines line up in two rows, one behind 
the other. 


1. — A marine at the end of the second line, 
near the lens, is sad and pensive. 
A. — The marines are at ease while the sail- 
cloth is thrown over the group of their 
comrades to be shot. 

2 The sad marine steals a slow glance over 

his shoulder. 
B. — The sailcloth is thrown an,d settles down 
over the heads of the unfortunate men. 
3. — The sad marine gazes down by his side 
— thinking. 
C. — Two or three "shots" of "business" 
elsewhere on deck. The tempo of the 
film at this point is decelerated. There 
is hardly any movement. The tension, 
the expectancy, mounts high. 

*In a sense it is not fair to offer this sequence as an isolated 
instance of analytical montage, just for the reason that it is 
isolated and not considered as a factor in the total image- 
structure of the massacre-episode. But for purposes of il- 
lustration of my percept, it is perhaps the best single example 
that I know or remember of a powerful time-cutting ana- 
lysis. Isolated in this manner, it exemplifies a principle. 
But actually, it derives its technical and aesthetic value from 
its position in the organization of the entire episode. 


4. — The sad marine with his nose pressed 
against the barrel of his gun. In the 
time-elapse between this cut and cut no. 
3, the sad marine has turned his head for- 
ward again and raised it. 
D. — More "business" on deck. 
5. — The sad marine with his head bent low, 
his eyes cast down, before him- 
Here we see how a movement is marked off and 
rendered meaningful by the time-cutting. While 
the foregoing is not a precise duplicate of the actual 
continuity at this point (the letter-cuts for the 
most part consisting of several individual "shots" 
of the intermediary action) , it none the less ex- 
emplifies the principle of the time-cutting analyt- 
ical montage as Eisenstein uses it. Each time we 
see the marine, he has performed a certain part of 
the turning of his head in its course from side to 
front- The letter-cuts alternate whh the number- 
cuts as the tension of the entire sequence mounts 
to a point of exciting stillness and momentary, 
foreboding cessation. When the previous hurried 
movement-rhythm stops, the movement-sensation 
(Gemutsbeivegung) experiences an instantaneous 
concentration, which "reflexes" in the spectator 
(the law of reaction-contrast), and the tension- 
point of stillness — fat this famous tension-point 
in Potemkin the action is suddenly abandoned and 
there flash before the spectator's eyes, "still" shots 
of a bugle against a sailor's hip, the flag of the 
Prince Potemkin, the prow of the ship, the flap- 
ping of the sailcloth above the heads of the doomed 
and various other important elements that mount 
the image-structure here into a profoundly signi- 
ficant and ominous pause) — the tension-point of 
stillness ( 1 ) checks the preceding rush of move- 
ment, and (2) prepares both the image-structure 
and the spectator for the outburst of fury that 
descends at the crucial moment, in which all cur- 
rents of movement are mixed together and the 
rhythm-line steps out of any previously sustained 
pattern whatsoever .... Thus this turning-around 
of the marine's head (together with the above- 
mentioned scenes that follow) is not only a true 
analytical montage, but also an imagistic emphasis 
on the total structural suspense at this point. 

These thoughts give us a concise idea of what 
is meant by analytical montage. The analysis and 
differentiation of movement-forms is one of the 
most important instruments at the command of 
cinematography for the manipulation of optical 
and emotional attention. We now see that, no 
matter into how many points of analysis the con- 
tinuum of a movement may be divided, the mon- 
tage of analysis only superficially implies the pure- 
ly descriptive mounting of different pieces in suc- 
cession. The montage of analysis is the point at 
which begins the study of the mathematics of film- 
technical analysis. 

This establishes the fundamental distinction 
between the analytical and the synthetic montage. 
The synthetic montage, as already mentioned by 
way of revision, is concerned not with a mere unit- 
ing of detail-pieces in succession, nor with the 
analysis of movement, but with the synthesizing 
of all images which collectively form a single 
image-unit expressing the essential, underlying, 


radical, abstract, meaning-full image-idea. 

The connection between synthetic montage and 
film-symbolism is immediate, direct, axiomatic. 
To resort to this figure: Synthesis is a fruit whose 
core is a symbol. This symbol stands in inter- 
mediary relation between the fruit itself (the 
structure) and the forming principle which makes 
the fruit itself. What, after all, is synthesis but 
construction in montage to make immediately ap- 
prehensible to mind the radical, abstract image-idea, 
which is the genetic conception of the film- work? 
But if the mechanics of the medium changes, if a 
Bakshy magnified screen comes into utilization, 
if a highly complex art of orchestral counterpoint 
emerges out of the progressive studios of U. S. S. 
R., will, then, synthesis still be possible of attain- 
ment? The answer is: Obviously, it will be 
more possible of attainment than ever before, nor 
will its intellectual root-character change. (Radi- 
cal abstract ideas are constant, however much 
mechanical instrumentation may change or in- 
dustrial production multiply) . Only the mon- 
tage-form, and not the radical aesthetic conception, 
will have to be transposed into a new formal struc- 
ture. Method will change: but synthesis, which 

is more than method, though less than end, 

synthesis, the construction-force that makes the 
abstract image-idea apprehensible to mind — - will 
not suffer as an aesthetic concept. \ Whatever the 
method, whatever the mechanics, synthesis will 
still be the intermediary "station" between the 
abstract image-idea and the spectator (the receiving 
brain) . In order to keep this clear, and in order 
to anticipate, and thus to guard against, possible 
confusion should the mechanism undergo further 
change (as undoubtedly it will), and to assure 
this sphere of cinematography a certain degree 
of safety from the inevitable frauds and charlatans 
who will corrupt these doctrines, I will postulate 
here a number of fundamental (radical) princi- 
ples of the image-idea, which are valid for the film 
in any sphere whatsoever as regards its imellectual 
motivation and meaning. 


1. — The image-idea is the intellectual and 
metaphysical essence of the image- 

2. — The image-idea underlies the image- 
structure and governs it. 
(This law is completely Spinozaic in 
its implications) • 

3. — The image-idea radically determines the 
image-structure (sequentially and or- 
ganically) , and definitively necessitates 
the image-montage (visual and dy- 
namic) . 

4. — The image-idea is the abstract, syn- 
thetic expression of the secondary raw- 
material (as distinguished from the 
raw-material, out of which the second- 
ary is selected, photographed and creat- 

*I use the term "primary raw material" to mean the same as 
the term "raw material" in Pudowkin's book. That is, the 
jictuality-stuff that the director selects and the camera photo- 

ed*. This secondary raw-material 
signifies all the images of the film as 
they are mobilized in the brain of the 
creator to form the new image-struc- 
ture. The new image-structure (as 
distinguished from- the "raw" image- 
structure of the creator's brain, to 
which, no matter how ultimately it 
may be developed, photography and the 
laboratory invariably add some new 
element of tone or composition), sign- 
ifies the cinematic reality, compounded 
out of the primary raw-material (ac- 
tuality) and the secondary raw-material 
(of the brain of the creator) . Of 
this cinematic reality, the image-idea 
forms the tertiary cinematic material, 
but this tertiary material is not a "raw" 
material (as are the primary and sec- 
ondary raw materials, which, unlike 
the tertiary, are either incompletely 
formed or not formed at all) , since no- 
thing in the film can be metaphysically 
deeper or more radical than the funda- 
mental image-idea. 

5. — The image-idea is explicit in the entire 
structure of the film. It is implicit in 
all the film's sequential (and episodic) 
phases, and in all its individual man- 
ifestations. It is violently and pro- 
nouncedly explicit in its purely sym- 
bolical manifestations. It is implicit 
in all manifestations of minor or indi- 
rect image-symbolism, and in images 
of referential or inferential value, per- 
tinent to other elements in the film- 
structure (of deeper value) or to other 
elements not directly expressed in the 

6. — The image-idea may never be expressed 
in the image-structure by a word, un- 
less that word be of imagistic value, 
containing within itself the rudiments 
of an image or an image-composition, 
as in the cases of Hebrew, or of Japan- 
ese or Chinese script. Only such 
image-words possess the potentiality of 
becoming a part of the image-structure, 
that forms the image-whole and of 
these, the one bearing the greatest po- 
tentialities and the most radical sign- 
ificance, is the Hebrew. 

7. — The image-idea is the sole intellectual, 
aesthetic determinant of the unity and 
solidarity of the image-structure. It is the 
dominating cause of its montage (visual 
and dynamic, sequential, episodic and 
organic) . 

8. — The image-idea expresses the philo- 
sophy of the theme. 

9. — The image-idea is the jealous God of 
the cinematic intellect. All deviations 
from its true and logical transmutation 
into the projected film-stuff, and all 
extraneous elements that are permitted 
to enter (or that perversely creep into) 



the final filmic expression of its meta- 
physical essence, will cause havoc with 
this expression and fail to communicate 
its essence to the spectator. Hence, the 
supreme importance of perfecting the 
mechanical aspects of the medium and 
of deciding upon the legitimacy of 
various current forms of cinema. (For 
instance. I exclude the speech-film from 
my aesthetic of cinematography. Ac- 
cording to the viewpoint of my doc- 
trine, color is an abhorrence, a 

cheap, commercial corruption of the 
purity and integrity of the film's 
simple, elemental black-and-white. I 
have always fought against it, using 
the Ladd-Franklin optical experiments 
as a basis of my arguments concerning 
optical attack and visual appeal). 
I hold these principles to be inviolate law of 
cinema, the mass-art. 

It is, of course, not for many film-works that 
any of these principles hold good, and for still 
fewer films that all of them hold good. These 
constitute a body of ideal doctrine. More than 
that. I recognize that not even every artistic film 
can have a radical, philosophical image-idea ! 

But I also hold that to ignore these principles 
as a matter of course must, and will, result ul- 
timately in the stagnation and fatal decadence of 
cinematography as an expressive medium and as 
an instrument of capturing the mass-mind. The 
full realization of these principles will no doubt 
be rare in the history of cinematography. So far, 
such realization has never been attained, but the 
cinematographers of U- S. S. R., particularly these 
world-creators — Eisenstein, Pudowkin, Alex- 
androff, Room, Dovzhenko, Konzintsoff and 
Trauberg — masters of montage, have come re- 
markably close to such realization. In U. S. S. 
R., I believe, it has not been lack of genius, but lack 
of mechanical resources, that has made perfection 
impossible. And then, ultimate and absolute per- 
fection will ever remain an elusive goal, because 
the mechanization of the medium (despite the 
greed-inspired efforts of the Americans) , is, and 
will long be, in an inadequate stage of accom- 
plishment. It pleases and excites me to anticipate, 
however, that the realization of these principles 
will approximate the highest degree of attainment 
in Eisenstein 's film-interpretation of Marx's 
CAPITAL. Here, the image-idea is already 
powerfully suggested in the very title ! 

As a rule, it may be said, any sequence, into which scenes 
unrelated in physical content are structurally incorporated 
in order to form the abstract, expressive idea (significance) 
of the sequence, is an instance of ideational synthetic mon- 
tage. Eisenstein in a crude way was successful in a pre- 
cocious experiment with this form in the sequence of Ten 
Days That Shook the World, where the figure of Kerensky 
mounting the stairs, the bust of Napoleon and the peacock 
spreading its tail, alternate in a time-cutting synthesis of 
astonishing power and emotional effect. Again, in the same 
work, there is the episode of the rising bridge, the massacres 
in the streets, the advancing riflemen and the hanging of the 
horse from the drawbridge, — a synthesis of scenes the in- 
conceivable force of which is outmatched only by the stark 
and terrible idea that unites them and gives them their vital 
meaning. In every case, the quality of symbolism is in- 


It is here, in this domain. (Ideational synthetic montage), 
that the real conditioning-process of cinematography must 
operate. Cinema, to an extent never imposed upon any pre- 
vious art-form, is confronted by the task of a stupendous 
revolutionary mass-conditioning. In the work of dises- 
tablishing the slave-values of Western civilization (values of 
ethic, aaesthetic. human behaviour, human "ideals", etc.). 
it has to draw its fighting-forces and ammunition from the 
arsenal of Western scientific research. It must utilize the 
despised and relatively neglected science-achievement of the 
West (which hitherto has been used purely for money-pur- 
poses or for the advancement of the war-makers) , in order 
to attack and dethrone the slavery-dogmas of the West . . . 
Western knowledge to smash Western slavery ! And this, 
too, in application to every society infested with these slavery- 
principles. In the new methodology of human behavior for 
which many great isolated spirits of the West have sought 
(Waldo Frank among them), cinema, by the aid of the in- 
genious utilization of the ideational synthetic montage, to 
create radical revolutionary image-ideas philosophycally found- 
ed, has the dominant place, the most important function. 
No other art has this responsibility. No other art bears 
the burden to this extent .... To establish the radical im- 
age in the mass-consciousness, and to impress the image con- 
stantly once it is implanted, in order to give root to a new. 
great, beautiful human society — this is the task of the new 

Ideational synthetic montage is the least developed, most 
difficult and altogether the most significant of all montage- 
concepts. The problems of cine-metaphysics, the problems 
of expressive montage-construction, and the problems of 
ideational synthetic montage . . . these are enduringly inter- 
connected. Ideational synthetic Montage opens the door to 
the contrapuntal method cinematography. "Synthesis sug- 
gests to me the power of reconciling opposites in space-time." 
— David Piatt) . Not only are counterpoint and synthesis 
mutually aidful in the montage of cinematic effects; not 
only do counterpoint and synthesis bestow boundless power 
and possibility on the explosion-montage which Eisenstein 
has developed (his mightiest contribution to cinema!): but, 
the conjunction of these radical intellectual image -necessities 
emancipates, present-day cinematography from the embar- 
rassment of a temporary standstill in its reliance on montage- 
effects that have been created as a result of limitations 
(of the medium), rather than through positive, radical 
creation. As a forceful, participant aid to synthesis, sound 
too must be admitted into the army of force utilized by the 
contrapuntal method. Sound-image counterpoint will be 
— ■ is already, thanks to the Moscow creators, the most power- 
ful coalition of conditioning-forces of the present world- 

Counterpoint and synthesis (montage- put into the hands 
of the world cinema-creators the power to express the deep- 
est radical image-ideas of human existence — in fact, to ex- 
press the radical, dominant image idea, basically underlying 
Creation, — the image-idea of the One. 

The second part of Principles of the New World- 
Cinema, which treats of the Problems of Method. 
will appear in the March issue of Experimental 

*It is remarkable how the critics and public of the bourgeois 
world can glibly and happily ignore the intense, bitter social 
significance of this vivid symbol. How even the "best- 
establishe" of the various emeritus-critics, so-called, can refuse 
to see in the hanging horse the symbol of the martyrdom of 
the Russian masses, murdered by a labor-exploiting govern- 
ment. Perhaps an explanatory title at this point, calling 
attention to the situation. might have penetrated to the 
bourgeois critical "brain!" 

**The Bolshevist creators from the beginning pronounced 
"the new orchestral counterpoint of sight-images and sound- 
images", "a new and enormously effective means for ex 
pressing and solving the complex problems with which we 
have been troubled owing to the impossibility of solving them 
by the aid of cinematography operating with visual images 
alone." (Quoted from the Manifesto on the Sound Film 
issued by Eisenstein, Pudowkin and Alexandroff in the Fall 
of 1928). This statement must not be accepted in con- 
nection with the destructive and confounding use of sound 
practised in the Hollywood studios. 








Philadelphia, Penna. t U. S, A, 



Film Direction and Film Man- 
uscript, Part 2 — Translated 
by Christel Gang. 

Principles of New World 
Cinema — Part 2. 

The Modern Spirit in films — 
Part 2. 

In Eisenstein's Domain — Dr. 
Erwin Honig, translated by 

From G. Melies to S. M. 



Paris and the Talkies. I T II All Til 

L E N A U E R 




A.CAVALCANTI • Published 



or A m e r 1 1 




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Edited by 

Hollywood Editor— SEYMOUR STERN N. Y. Editor— H. POTAMKIN Paris Editor— J. LENAUER 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA is the only magazine in America devoted to the principles of the art of 
the motion picture. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA is a forum for the discussion of the new cinematic ideas and forms of 
America, Europe and U. S. S. R. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA contains criticism, analysis, scenarios, photographs by internationally 
known critics, directors, technicians and photographers. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA will introduce to film students and laymen the films, criticism, theories, 
stills, etc., of 


others. { 


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EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA is Two Dollars a year in the United States; $2.50 Foreign. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA is published at 1629 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 



Focus and Mechanism David Piatt 

In Eisenstein's Domain Tr. by Christel Gang 

The Evolution of Cinematography in France A. Cavalcanti 

Film Direction & Film Manuscript W. L. Pudowkin 

Hollywood Bulletin Seymour Stern 

Decomposition Lewis Jacobs 

Populism and Dialectics H. A. Potamkin 

The Theatre and the Motion Picture B. G. Braver-Mann 

From G. Melies to S. M. Eisenstein Leon Mousstnac 

Paris Letter Jean Lenauer 

Proposed Continuity for the ending of 

"All Quiet on the Western Front" Werner Klingler 


^zi-i,-f,;.;;-,.;„ tMV'iAi zzzzz: 



has worked with Prof. Oskar Strnad, Max Reinhardt's chief 
designer and one of Europe's leading film technicians; has writ- 
ten articles for The Billboard. Film Spectator and other jour- 
nals. The Literary Digest has referred to him as a chal- 
lenging csthetician of the motion picture." 


is a film director now in France; among his films are: En Rade. 
Rien Que Les Heures. La P'Tite Lily. 


is a professional German translator at present employed in that 
capacity by Universal Pictures Corporation. Universal City. Cal. 
She has recently completed the first translation of Pudowkin's 
bock done in America. 


is a painter and designer who has been making industrial and ex- 
perimental films for the, past few /ears. 


formerly connected with Murnau ; s now "free-lancing" in Hol- 
lywood pictures. He has an important role as a revolting Ger- 
man soldier in "Journey's End" and he plays the second lead in 
All Quiet on the Western Front." 


is a newspaper film critic in Paris and French correspondent for 
several European film journals. 


is a French critic who has written several important books on 
the cinema, the latest of which is "Panoramique Du Cinema", 
recently published in France. This is his first appearance in an 
American film mag-azine. 


is a writer and film critic who has in preparation a book on the 
Cinema and the New Naturalism". 


Formerly an editor of The Guardian; has contributed poetry, 
short-stories, essays on literature, art. education and cineria to 
periodicals here and abroad. Work on cinema has appealed in 
New Republic, Movie Makers. The Billboard. Musical Quar- 
terly, Theatre Guild Magazine, The New Masses. Cinerrw. etc. 


is the well known Soviet Director of "End of St. Petersburg," 
"Storm over Asia", and "Mother". His Book "Film Direction 
and Film Manuscript", now appearing in "Experimental Cin- 
ema", is one of the few important contributions to film prac- 


has written extensively on technical and aesthetic film -problems 
for several years. He is at present studying the new mechanism 
of the American film studios, in relation to the problems of the 
new world-cinematography. 

Experimental Cinema is published bv the Cinema Crafters of America at 1629 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia. Penna. Contri- 
butions should be addressed to the Editors who will not assume responsibility for their safe return unless solicited. Subscrip- 
tion price is S2.00 a -year; $2.50 foreign. 

VOL. 1. No. 2. 

Copyr-gh'ed 1010 by Lewis Jacobs 



«ni e 




j T cannot be denied that the feeble rationalism 
of the great body of modern thought carried 
over from a long disintegrated theology has 
failed dismally to penetrate and humanize the 
forces of the naturalistic world surrounding us 
today (as reflected in radio, television, cinema, 
the machine in general) forces which are as in- 
escapable as they ire directionless. For the first 
time in centuries man is without a humanistic 

system or theory of the universe potent enough 
to meet, cooperate with and give meaning and 
reality to the new naturalistic synthesis disclosed 
and still being disclosed by modern science. Where- 
as in the middle ages, there was at one time power- 
ful reciprocal relationship between the social, 
political and philosophical forces on one side and 
the natural or theologic powers on the other, — 
no such harmony exists for us today. Twentieth 
century man is without a symbology as inclusive 





as that of the Mahabharata or the Divine Comedy 
which would support him in a union with nature 
and the mechanization of nature, the machine and 
thereby lend profound purpose to all phenomena 
within its scope. An ideology in which the machine 
would be incorporated integrally and vitally in 
the modern scheme both as affecting the act or 
behavior as well as the thought of man within it. 
It cannot be stated too often that this lack of a 
humanistic orientation of the modern world is 
responsible for a good deal of the unrest and 
weariness of our time. Indeed, social, political 
and humane development are so far in the arrears 
of scientific progress that it becomes more and 
more doubtful whether the balance will ever be 
fully adjusted one with the other, at least by ra- 
tionalism. And to suggest a solution to the dif- 
ficulty, by deliberate evasion of these new natural 
phenomena (radio, television, cinema, the ma- 
chine) and by concentration on the traditional in- 
ner forces of man that have so long in the past 
contributed to his happiness and welfare in a less 
mechanical age, is the typical escape of the spirit- 
ually retrogressive. As though happiness is some- 
thing that can be achieved by withdrawing so 
naively — and yet so desperately from pain; or 
chaos something that can be resolved to order in an 
ivory tower; as though humanistic forces them- 
selves are not determined largely by the naturalistic. 
The very concept of good and evil itself must ul- 
timately conform to a naturalistic ethos, whether 
it is the theologic synthesis of the 13th century 
or the scientific equivalent of the 20th. This 
type of rationalism however defeats itself as will 
be seen in a crisis, when it will always be found 
in the ranks of the most conservative or reac- 
tionary elements- Also to offer a solution to 
the question, in blind acceptance of mechanical 
science and technological progress, is to fall practi- 
cally into the same error — a point of view that fails 
to take into consideration the irrationality — the 
creative irrationalism of nature since the days of 
Spencerian science. If it has be proven that even na- 
ture herself is irrationa' and imaginative in her be- 
behavior (as is now revealed) how on earth is it 
possible to erect systematic or rationalistic states, 
societies or philosophies, etc., without allowing for 
that element of mystery. Thus the so-called hu- 
manist and the modernist arrive at the same point 
without having touched the heart of the subject. 
Neither of these views has been able to explain or 
visualize the philosophical or social-political impli- 
cations of the relation of man to a world wherein 
it is possible or soon will be possible for him to see 
an event in any part of the globe the moment it oc- 
curs. "The world for man today", wrote Jean 
Epstein, brilliant French cinematographs in 
"Broom", several years ago, "is like descriptive 
geometry with its infinite planes of projection. 
Everything possesses hundreds of apparent dia- 
meters which never superimpose exactly. A voice 
heard naturally, then heard springing from the 
black graphite of the telephone, then finally re 

sounding when the sapphire delivers it from the 
disc is no longer, whatever one may say, the simple 
voice, the same voice". It is this new space-time 
spirit that is awaiting a human synthesis. "An 
historical reconstruction on the screen strikes out 
for a few half hours, twenty centuries of time. 
The instantaneous photograph has discovered 
gestures which the eye now delivers and the hand 
reproduces. We notice how suddenly a face on 
the screen shows itself to be different. A wrinkle 
appears that we failed to notice for twenty years; 
but from now on we shall have learned to see it." 
And if "the speed realized by man has given a new 
character to civilized life", it will appear, it must 
appear in the creative forms of today. So as it 
becomes more and more impossible to eliminate 
or deflect the main currents of our time as they 
are manifested in radio, television, aeronautics, 
cinema, relativity, etc., it becomes more and more 
urgent that these factors if they are eventually 
to react to cur benefit and not to our havoc be 
controlled by an ideology nourished by and 
through free creative contact with these realities. 
And the first premise of this vision will reject the 
false dualism of matter and spirit that has infect- 
ed our age so long — for a spiritual monism more 
in consonance with the temper of the time — a 
monism that will suggest there is more of the be- 
ginnings, the foundations, of the new spirit in 
creative work outside the art world, than those 
within it — that the positive values of Machinery, 
Bridges, Automobiles, Zeppelins, Dynamos, the 
Cinema — celebrating the union of art and science 
— are of more importance for our ideology :han 
the literature, painting or music of the day des- 
perately struggling in a cul de sac and most of 
which exalts negative values entirely outside 
modern life. It will suggest that the Cinema, 
the absolute focus of the new spirit — is great 
enough in possibilities to not only contain but to 
give direction and purpose to poetry, music, paint- 
ing, sculpture, etc. in the throes of a futile roman- 
ticism, and that it is the only major force of the 
day that in any way incorporates the vision of 
the new universe and the only medium in control 
of the artist today that can possibly unite with 
him in attempting a modern humanistic synthesis 
of the world powerful enough to give meaning 
and reality to the new naturalistic synthesis of 

David Piatt 

In 1900 a Swede found a block of magnetic steel which 
retained the invisible vibrations of sound and retranslated 
them for the human ear. The steel, when demagnetized, be- 
came deaf and dumb. If matter hears and speaks, do not 
objects see? Do not lines adjust themselves to one another? 
A process not yet accessible to the human consciousness. 
Similarly, do not the vibrations of the cinema have speech, 
thought, will? Scientific investigators may track down 
the evidence of this life: hierog-lyphists may interprcc its 
system of logic; but is not the imagination, to b: per- 
mitted its faith in an arrangement of living lines which, 
going beyond pretext and scenery, play the leading role? 
The art of the cinema offers us a new expression of thought. 

Etienne de Beau nont 

■ . 




By Dr. ERWIN HONIG (Berlin) 
{Translated by Christel Gang from the Original Article Published in Internationale Filmschau) 

S. M. Eisenstein, the creator of the POTEMKIN 
film, which, even if only externally, neverthless 
enriched last year's world-production, was recently 
in Berlin to arrange the final preparations for the 
initial showing of the new film, THE GENERAL 
Line*. He expects to leave soon for America, in 
ot;der, as he humbly expresses himself, to learn- 
horn to make camera angles. 

The intellectual and spiritual development of 
Eisenstein is today one of the most important 
factors for the advance of the cinema. Whoever 
has had the opportunity to watch him at his 
work in the Leningrad Winter Palace, in the ar- 
ranging of scenes for the Russian October-Revolu- 
tion, then in the cutting of The General Line in 
his Moscow studio, and now in Berlin in the en- 
forcement of the newly established problems of 
the tone-film, is perpetually astonished at the 
stormy intellectual tempo of this man. The tone- 
film? It is no longer a dreamed- of goal, or rest- 
ing-place, — it is an inwardly conquered affair. 
This director, to whom the intellectual is all-im- 
portant, cannot be tempted with the promise of the 
American dollar. He will return to Soviet Rus- 
sia, as only in that country will it be possible for 
him to realize his ideas. 

This was an established decision already on 
those chatty winter evenings in Eisenstein's Mos- 
cow home — (prominent travelers through So- 
viet Russia, such as Theodore Dreiser and Stefan 
Zweig, have sung praise of these quar- 
ters) . America will bring much to him in the 
nature of mechanical technicalities, but whatever 
may be the film which Eisenstein will direct in 
America, hh main thought belongs even now to 
that gigantic task which he has undertaken, the 
picturization of Karl Marx's "CAPITAL". 

Montage is the pass-word to his plans. The 
idea is to treat the philosophical foundation of 
socialism by way of montage from image to im- 
age, and by means of image combined with sound, 
to present it in so clear a form that the Russian 
worker and peasant can understand it. The well- 
founded montage of the Russian Revolutionary 
films can today be duplicated by almost any young 
man of the Moscow Cinema University (Mos- 
kauer Kino-Technikum) . But one of them 
should try to present cinematically "The Economy 
cf Antitheses'" . . .Whoever would dare to do 
that must possess a profound education and a per- 
petual "borin t" desire for research. Tendencies 
towards this ntellectua! montage can already be 
observed in rVe earlier films of Eisenstein; atten- 

tion may be called to the idea of "War in the Name 
of the Lord", as it was shown in the film Ten 
Days That Shook the World (October). 

The strongest elements of montage the Russian 
director has discovered in Japanese art. The 
ancient Japanese theatre "Kabuki" imparted to the 
intellectual life of Moscow last year a special im- 
petus (impulse) . No one rushed with greater 
intensity upon this stimulant than Eisenstein. The 
joint application of picture, movement and sound 
has existed since medieval times in the strictest 
tradition of this theatre. It is an established mon- 
tage*. And deeper still lead Eisenstein's studies , 
into the origin of the Japanese script, as a mon--, 
tage composed of drawings and brush-strokes 
with symbolic expression. 

But whoever wants to see the man at his 
work, must follow him from his studio into his 
practical teacher-capacity. In Moscow there is the 
State cinema-university (of Soviet Russia) , where 
Eisenstein functions as one of the most important 
teachers in the training of young directors. To 
add spice to the work it happens that this university 
is established in the former restaurant "Jar", 
where in the old days Rasputin, during his Mos- 
cow sojourn, held his parties and love affairs. To- 
day, those private chambers, instead cf being lux- 
uriously furnished, are decorated with a small, 
simple picture, the head of Lenin, and underneath 
are printed his words: "The Film i. one of the 
most important means of the State". Only m 
the light of the State policies of the Soviet system 
does their treatment of cinema art become clarified. 
Of greater importance here than the commercial 
success of the film is the fact that young directors 
and actors of the Asiatic nations are being instruc- 
ed. Here a nucleus is being formed to bring about 
the autonomous, national film for every foik- 
people. The most vital, agitative thoughts are to 
be instilled into the people in such a way that 
th,ey will not be aware of its external source, and 
the best means to use for a people that is not 
trained in reading or in writing, is the film, the 
montage. It is a terrible means of power that 
is being fostered here. 

The cinema university has divisions for al! 
branches, for photography, developing, acting and 
for directing. A remarkable feature of Eisen- 
stein's ideas is a shooting-room partitioned accord- 
ing to a coordination-system. Every object re-' 
ceives its definite geometrical posicion. Every 
dramatic action is divided into its nathematica! 



componencs. The scientific law of film-shooting 
is being outlined here. 

But the heart of this domain is the technical 
school for young directors. Eisenstein conducts 
this himself. Tonight there will be exercises on 
Zola's works. The foundation of naturalism, a 
scene "Death in a Bakery", written by Zola with 
minutest observations, is being read and is to be 
worked out for the following day in scenario form. 
Another student — we are in a poor country, so 
one Zola novel is divided among three students 
— reads the famous part about the flagrant 
flowers in the garden of the priest Mouret. 

When the Zola course is finished, they move 
on the impression, then to expressionism, and to 
their mutual friend, the young Russian poet, 
Babel. Description of an evening's fantastic il- 
lumination at Babel's house. After expressionism 

comes the chamber-artist, the psychological 
miniature-painter, Stefan Zweig, and one of the 
most popularly read authors in Soviet Russia. 
And, as a final course, the. Ulysses of James Joyce. 

The intense enthusiasm of these young people, 
who are gathered here around an ideal task under 
the most unfavorable living and working condi- 
tions, is one of the strongest positive forces Soviet 
Russia has to offer today. It is one of the signs 
demonstrating that even in the face of the dire need 
of living quarters and the trying economic situa- 
tion, spiritual-intellectual power can prevail. But 
it is also a warning to the rulers of State every- 
where, to grant such spiritual-intellectual elements 
their necessary freedom. 

♦Literally, in the German, "it is an anticipatory montage" 
(i.e., anticipatory of modern film-montage) . Trans, note. 

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ivoluiion of Cinematography in France 

Translated by Richard Aldrich 

T the International Congress of Independent 
Cinematography, at Sarrez, my remarks on 
the growth of cinematography from the 
dramatic point of view were to indicate the solu- 
tion of some questions with which my comrades 
and myself were occupied, questions that were the 
purpose of the meeting. 

The silent cinema is dead. Its decline provok- 
ed a crisis so violent that we have neither compo- 
sure, not recoil. Toward the establishment of 
an historical view of this silent phase, however, 
an examination of the material already allows 
formulation of a certain amount of certitude, and 
an analysis of the aesthetique. 

A composite reel made up of a resume of cin- 

ematic work in France since 1893 and selections 
from French films were projected to illustrate the 
talk at Sarrez. 

The first film I think was a release from the 
Lumiere flat in Lyons in 1894. This film was 
more self-sufficient than evocative; it was fol- 
lowed by a short period of enthusiasm. It con- 
cerned the arrival of people by train, and a boat 
moving around a dock. It carried sufficient novel- 
ty and movement to retain attention. Cinematic 
art began with L'Arrosseur Arrose in 1900. Was 
the cinema aware of its possibilities? Was it go- 
ing to interpret human emotion, the comic, life 
itself? Also instead of catching its true voice in 



the beginning indicated so clearly in this film, the 
year lost itself in encumbrances with theatrical 
tradition. Armand Callier, has shown us at the 
Studio des Ursulines several very beautiful ex- 
amples of theatre-film. How is one to forget 
Mimosa la derniere gcisetle, with Leonace Perret, 
and above all, Wert her with Andre Brule? The 
year recalls also L'Assassinat Du Due de Guise, 
one of the first of the "historic reconstruction" class 
of film that unhappily remains much in vogue 
among French directors. This did not at all im- 
pede development, for the cinema recovered itself, 
first with Melies who was -the author of one of 
the first phantasy films. 

The cue was not found alone in phantasy 
films, however; Fevillade turned out a little later 
the first comedies (the series of the Belee, for 
example) played out of doors, which one has not 
seen again and which in spite of their twenty 
years seem scarcely obsolete. 

The period had not completely passed away 
when Louis Delluc began to work. He died 
young, before he had arrived at a fruition of his 
work. He was a theorist of the first order. Even 
though they are incomplete, his works for the 
most part are beautiful specimens and they mark 
distinctly a new transition. 

The cinema reacts definitely against the double 
influence of the theatre and of letters in the growth 
of the episodic, the cultural and the comic film. 
A curious lacuna particularly in French produc- 
tion is the long disappearance of the comic film 
so abundantly and astonishingly developed in 
America. Only the films of Max Linder are ex- 

Forthwith in the appearance of masterpieces 
such as Judex, or in America', The Mysteries of 
New York, the intrusion of decor in its turn 
shackled the growth of the cinema from the drama- 
tic point of view. How can we forget apart- 
ments grander than the cathedrals and intimate 
affairs where one saw scores of figures? 

By the side of this ostentation which tended to 
bring to cinema sumptuous spectacles of the bad 
music hall, dramatic documents took on in their 
disturbing simplicity all the power of photographic 
veracity. One will never say too much of what a 
valuable lesson these actualities have been, one in- 
dispensible in the evolution of cinematography. 
How could one forget the straining vision of an 
automobile race accident in the United States? You 
saw the torn form thrown into the air and fall 
to the ground. In another you saw a ship that 
starts to flounder careen on the waves; the sailors 
let her glide and escape the wreck by swimming 
in the fatal turmoil of the engulfment. 

These cruder devices were used for a long time. 
The technique achieved adequacy for the time; ob- 
jectives of great works were seen. The pan- 
chromatic film was evolved. Then a dimunition 
of scale cinematography reached a point that would 
have seemed formerly quite improbable. This has 
brought forth a precision that seems absolute and 
consonant to the rhythm of the images. One 

such a reduction of scale was a study of a vivid 
struggle between a mongoose and a cobra; an ex- 
treme dimunition was that of a soap bubble which 
burst; another of. a revolver bullet penetrating a 
plank, and another of the flight of a dragon-fly — 
these mysteries gave up their secrets in the excellent 
photography of these rhythms, movements and 
Today most improvement in the domain of 
speed hardly seem to astonish us. The achieve- 
ment that will again appease us will perhaps arise 
in the growth of greater unification of cinematic 

How much on the side of semblance of the 
marvelous should one try to attain in a film, The 
problem calls for realization that is profound. To 
have reverence for life, to guard its wild freedom, 
to interpret it in an act of true reconstruction — > 
this is something to look forward to in the cin-, ; 

It is not always possible to renew data suf- 
ficiently to have actuality, nor to accept the rhythm 
revealed in the first unification of the picture. One 
secures an alien rhythm of the flow of images 
themselves. This is called montage. It is brought 
out by means of adjusting simple interior rhythms, 
and powerfully it accents dramatic action. Among 
the first beautiful examples of concordant rhythms 
one may name the mounting of the machine in 
La Rove (Gance) and the summons to battle in 
Le Jover d'Echecs (Bernard) . 

Reacting in its turn against certain bad usages 
of montage the travel films, often of great drama- 
tic power, cooperate by their naturalism to rees- 
tablish the film in a form that is better balanced- 
La Croissiere Note (Poerier, Le Voyage d' Andre 
Gide au Congo (Allegret) in France, and Grass, 
Chang, Moana and others have had a direct in- 
fluence on film direction. 

In the future the cinema finds in pure photo- 
graphy the material of its unique kind of drama. 
It exists by itself. It is neither a question of the- 
atre nor of literature. Dramatic structure of the 
film, it seems to us, has arrived at a degree of purity 
and perfection that is difficult to surpass when the 
sound element comes into consideration. We 
thought the formula already found for cinema- 
tography was definitive, but instead of proceeding 
on a new stage of present growth as one expected, 
the introduction of sound has produced on the 
contrary a regressive phenomenon- They do not 
show us the equal of Train de la Ciotat and of 
Canot Contournant la Jettec etc. The opera 
singers and players of the saxaphone whom one 
likes well enough on discs are works of filmed 
theatre, and we cannot believe such violations will 
endure. Rather we are seeking to realize in the 
new form of cinematography the visual and 
auditory elements that will make up the develop- 
ed sound film. With sound film a new era is 
upon us, and cinematography should begin to 
evolve the destiny that the addition of tone now 
lays upon the silent drama. 


Film Direction and Film Manuscript 


Translated by Christ el Gang from the German of Georg and Nadja Friedland. 
Edition Verlag der Licht Bild Buehne Revision according to Russian Original 

Translation Copyright by Seymour Stern, 1930 


IF we try to divide the work of the manuscript 
into stages, so that we advance from the general 
to the particular, we get. roughly, the follow- 
ing scheme: 

1. The stuff (subject matter) 

2. The script (action) 

3. The cinematographic treatment of the action 

Naturally, such a scheme can be drafted only 
if the final manuscript has been thoughtfully es- 
tablished. As I have already remarked, however. 
the creative process can advance in a different 
order: individual scenes can emerge (i. e., "come 
up") during the working-process and can then 
for the first time be incorporated in the manu- 
script. It is certain, however, that the final valid 
form of the work will consist of all three above 
moments in their sequence. One should always 
keep in mind that the film, owing to the peculiarity 
of its construction, (the quick change of consecu- 
tive pieces) requires of the spectator an extra- 
ordinary strain of attention. The director, and 
consequently also the author, lead the spectator 
despotically in their path- The spectator sees on- 
ly that which the director shows him. To re- 
flect, doubt and to pause for criticism, there is 
neither space nor time, and therefore the minutest 
error or slip in the clarity and definiteness of the 
construction will be interpreted as a disturbing 
confusion or simply as a meaningless vacuum. One 
must therefore, before all else, be cautious to ob- 
tain the greatest simplicity and clarity in the solu- 
tion of every single task. For convenient elucida- 
tion, we will examine the points of the above- 
mentioned scheme separately. 

THE STUFF (Subject-Matter) 
The word stuff (or subject-matter) is an inar- 
tistic concept. Every human thought can be ul- 
timately utilized as "stuff" ; only whether it is ef- 
fective and purposeful, can be discussed. For a long 
while the tendency prevailed (and partly exists to 
this day) to choose such subjects as embrace mat- 
erial that stretches out extensively over time and 
space. As an example, take the American film 
"Hate", whose stuff may be described as follows: 
"In 3ll times and among all peoples, from the earl- 
iest days unto the present, there has been hate a- 
mong men, and only where there is hate, follows 

murder." That is a stuff of enormous dimen- 
sions and already the fact that it is extended to 
"all times and peoples", necessitates an incalcuable 
wealth of material. The result is exceptionally 
characteristic. First of all, the film-material 
could hardly be squeezed into twelve reels and the 
action developed so awkwardly ( that the effect, 
due to the unbroken boresomeness, was very ques- 
tionable. In the second place, the excess of stuff 
forced the director to work out the theme very 
generally, without going into particulars; the con- 
sequence was a stark discrepancy between the depth 
of the motive and the superficiality of the treat- 
ment. Only the part which takes place in the pre- 
sent time, where the action is more concentrated, 
had a strong effect. Particularly, owing to the 
wealth of subject-material, the forced superficial- 
ities were conspicuous. And film-art, young to 
this day, has other such presuppositions, which do 
not permit her to tackle so wide a field. 

It is noteworthy, that good films are disting- 
uished mainly by a relatively simple theme and by 
uncomplicated action. Bela Belazs, in his "Film- 
Culture," "hits the nail on the head" when he says 
that the failure of many filmings of literary works 
is to be traced to the fact that the author attempted 
to force too much stuff into the narrow scope of 
the film. 

The film is above all limited by the determ- 
ined length of the film-strip. A film over 2300 
meters quickly tires. There exists, however, the 
possibility to show a film in several parts, but this 
method is suitable only for films of a special kind. 
Adventure films, whose content consists chiefly in 
a series of interesting incidents in the fate of the 
hero, which really have little intrinsic inter-con- 
nection and have mostly a self-sustaining interest 
(acrobatic and directorial tricks) , can naturally be 
presented to the spectator in serial form. The spec- 
tator, without losing the impression, can see the 
second part without knowledge of the first, whose 
content he learns from the opening title. The con- 
nection between the parts is effected through a 
simple play on the curiosity of the spectator: for 
example, if the hero at the end of the first part 
falls into some kind of difficult situation, which 
is unravelled only at the beginning of the second 



part. The film with deeper content, however, 
whose worth lies always in its total impression, 
cannot be divided in such a way into two parts. 

The influence of the circumscribed space of the 
film is still further magnified through the fact that 
the film-artist, for the clear presentation of a 
thought, needs considerably more place than, say, 
the poet. 

Often a word contains a whole complex of dif- 
ficult thoughts. Visible apearances, however, 
which are capable of presenting such a thought 
symbolically, occur very seldom, and the film- 
creator is thus forced to mount scenically (inzenie- 
ren) an extensive image-presentation, if he does not 
want to renounce the effect. 

I repeat, that this contention regarding the 
limitation of theme is perhaps only a passing one, 
but at the present time it is necessary to insist on 
it rigidly. 


On this account a stipulation, that is rooted in 
the peculiar quality of the film itself, will prob- 
ably always have to be laid down: the striving 
towards clarity. I have already mentioned above 
the necessity of absolute clarity in the discussion 
of the. individual tasks in the film. This is valid 
in a comprehensive sense also for the work on the 
subject-matter. If the basic thought, which is to 
serve as the spine of the manuscript, is indefinite 
and vague, the manuscript from the beginning is 
condemned to failure. Assuming the most care- 
ful planning in laying down the foundations of 
the film in the manuscript, it is very well possible 
to disentangle hazy suggestions and cloggings- I 
should like to make mention of the following ex- 
ample from experience: A manuscript writer pre- 
sented us with an already finished manuscript on 
the life of a factory-worker of the period before 
the Russian Revolution. The manuscript is 
based on a definite personality, a worker. In the 
development of the action the worker comes into 
contact with a group of persons, friends and 
enemies. The enemies do him ill. The friends 
help him. At the beginning of the film the hero 
is portrayed as a crude, raw type of human being; 
at the end he becomes and honest, revolutionary 
worker. The manuscript is very naturalistically 
written and yields undoubtedly interesting, living 
material, which testifies to the gift of observation 
and the knowledge of the author. In spite of that, 
it is unusuable. 

A series of incidents from life, a series of ac- 
cidental meetings and conflicts which bear no other 
connection than a correctly timed, sequential order, 
finally represent nothing else than an accumula- 
tion of episodes. The theme as a fundamental 
idea, which gives expression to the meaning of 
these events as they are shown, is missing; con- 
sequently the single figures in a deeper sense are 
impersonal, the actions of the hero just as chaotic 
and accidental as the meeting of passers-by on the 
street, as* they rush past a show-window. 

The writer was sensible, and on the basis of 
our objections, undertook to re-construct the 
manuscript. He brought the hero into a new line 

of development by placing him in lasting relation- 
ship to the clearly formulated theme- The basic 
thought was conceived in a distinct, comprehen- 
sive formula: that is, it is not sufficient, to be sole- 
ly a revolutionary inclined human being; in order 
to serve the cause, one must possess also a correctly 
organized consciousness of actuality. In short, 
the brawling, quarrelsome worker, thirsting for 
action, became an anarchist. His enemies accord- 
ingly stood in a definite, clear front. The impact 
of the hero with them and his future friends re- 
ceived definite meaning and clear significance, a 
whole series of superfluous burdens were dispensed 
with and the confused, intricate, manuscript was 
transformed into a lucid, convincing structure. One 
may define the above rendered thought of this sto- 
ry already as the theme, the clear formulation ■ i of 
which unconditionally regulates the whole work 
and which alone can yield a clear impressive crea- 
tion. As a rule, it should be noted: Formulate the 
theme clearly and exactly, otherwise the work' will 
lose is deeper significance and its unity which 
every work of art must have. All further restric- 
tions which influence the choice of the theme arc 
connected with the working out of the action. As' 
I mentioned before, the creative process never oc- 
curs in scheduled succession: if one takes up a 
theme, one must almost instantaneously think the. 
formation of the script. 

Already in the initial stage of his work the au- 
thor possesses a certain material which is later em- 
bodied in the frame of the work. This material 
is obtained through experience, observation, and 
through imagination. When the basic thought of 
the theme, which determines the selection of 
material, is established, the author must next at- 
tack the problem of organization. First, the 
persons acting in the picture are introduced, their 
relationships to one another arc established, their 
significance in the development of the action is de- 
fined and, finally, certain proportions of the divi- 
sion of the total material throughout; the manu- 
script are drafted- 

In that moment when the treatment of the ac- 
tion begins, the author makes his first contacts 
with the conditions of artistic labor. Just as the 
pure (raw) stuff* can be considered as an ab- 
solutely inartistic thing**, so, in the same way, 
the work on the action is conditioned through a 
whole series of regulations which are peculiar to 

Let us begin with the most general: If the 
writer thinks through the whole planned out work. 
he will always construct a series of certain "prop" 
points which are fundamental for the formation 
of the stuff and which extend over the total length 
of the theme. These prop-points throw the 
general outline into bold relief. To this belong 
the characterization of individuals, the particularity 

*Stuff — meaning absolutely raw. unformed material. 

**In the Geiman the word is "moment", tha is, instance or 
state of condition. 



of events which react upon these figures, often also 
certain details which determine the meaning and 
force of the upward-and-downward movement. 

To think unsystematically about the subject is 
Trans. Note) One may not simply say that at the 
start the hero is an anarchist and then, after a series 
of mishaps, he becomes a conscious communist. 
Such a scheme does not release the theme and does 
not bring us to the decisive transformation. 

One must perceive not only what happens but 
also how it happens. In the work on the script 
the form must be already fulfilled. To propose 
a revolution in the world-philosophy of the hero 
by no means signifies a high-point in the manu- 
script- Before a certain concrete form is found, 
of which the intended effect, according to the 
author's meaning, may influence the spectator 
from the screen, the bare thought of the revolution 
has no artistic worth and cannot serve as a prop- 
point in the building-up of the script. These 
prop-points, hoicever, are necessary: they establish 
the solid skeleton of the script and clear away the 
dead places, which always crop up, if such an im- 
portant moment in the development of the manu- 
script is thought through carelessly and unsys- 
tematically. The neglect of this moment can have 
irremediable consequences: particularly, it is easy 
for elements to creep in which combat the final 
plastic treatment and thus destroy the whole struc- 

The writer can represent his high-points through 
detailed description: the dramatist through dia- 
logue. The manuscript-writer, however, must 
think in terms of plastic (external) means; he 
must discipline his power of imagination to that 
degree where he is able co present every thought in 
the form of a sequence of images on the screen. 
Mor than that: he mils': learn to govern these im- 
ages and, out of the mass of image-forms that flow 
to him, to select the clearest and most expressive. 
He must learn to master them as the writer masters 
the word and the dramatist the dialogue. The 
clearness and definiteness of the treatment depends 
conclusively on the clear formulation of the theme. 

Let us take, as an example, a real naive Amer- 
ican film of little worth, which runs under the 
title "Immer fremd" (Lit. — "Always strange"). 
Apart from the modesty of its content, it presents 
an excellent example of a clearly defined theme 
and of a simply and definitely worked out script 
(action)- The theme is formulated somewhat 
as follows: 

"Human beings of different classes of society 
will never be happy if they marry." 

The building up of the action is as follows: A 
chauffeur turns down the love of a laundress, be- 
cause he has fallen in love with the daughter of a 
capitalist whom he has to drive around daily in 
the auto. The son of another wealthy man, who 
accidentally sees in his home the young laundress, 
falls in love with her. The couples marry. The 

small quarters of the chauffeur appear to the daugh- 
ter of the capitalist like a dog's kennel. The na- 
tural desire of the chauffeur, to find, after a tiring 
day's work, a home-cooked meal ready for him, 
meets with an insurmountable obstacle — his wife 
has not the slightest idea of how to go about mak- 
ing a fire. The fire is too hot, the dishes dirty her 
hands and the half-finished meal falls to the floor. 
When friends of the chauffeur visit him to spend 
a gay evening, they behave, according to the spoil- 
ed lady's opinion, so raw, that she finally rushes 
out of the room in an hysterical crying-fit. 

But the laundress in the house of the wealthy 
man fares no better. Surrounded by servants she 
falls from one embarrassement into another. Her 
maid, who helps her dress and undress, gives her 
one surprise after another. In fancy dress she feels 
ridiculous- Among the guests at dinner she makes 
one faux pas after another, so that she becomes 
the target of ridicule, to the worry of the spouse 
and his relatives. 

By accident the chauffeur and the former laun- 
dress meet. It turns out that under the influence 
of their common disappointments, the former af- 
fection is re-awakened. Both couples separate and 
find each other in a newer, happier union. The 
laundress manages the kitchen in perfect order, and 
the new wife of the capitalist wears the dress in 
perfect style and dances a wonderful Charleston. 

The manuscript is just as primitive as the theme, 
but nevertheless one can designate the film as ex- 
ceptional in the clearly planned construction. 
Every detail is in place and in immediate connec- 
tion with the underlying thought: At the same 
time one feels even in the superficial content-sketch 
distinctly visible the clear, plastically worked out 
picture-sequence. The kitchen, the guests of the 
chauffeur, the elegant dress, the invited dinner 
guests, and again the kitchen and the dress in an- 
other form. Every essential moment in the 
development of the manuscript is defined through 
distinct plastic material. As a counter example, I 
shall reproduce an excerpt from one of the many 
daily submitted manuscripts: 

"A family has fallen into dire poverty. Neither 
the father nor the daughter can find work. Every- 
where they are turned down- Often a friend calls 
on them and tries with consoling words to cheer 
up the despairful daughter, etc." 

This is a typical example of filmic colorlcssncss 
and helplessness in the presentation. One finds 
here nothing except meetings and conversations. 
Such expressions as "often a friend calls on them". 
to cheer up with consoling words", everywhere 
turned down", etc. show the complete failure to 
connect the work on the script with the filmic 
form which the manuscript should finally assume. 
Such suggestions can at best serve as stuff for titles, 
but not for film-shots, for the word "often" un- 
mistakably means" several times", and to show the 
friend entering the room four or five times would 
even seem absurd to the writer of this manuscript. 




The same is to be said about the notation "every- 
where they were turned down." 

It is also important that one should not draft 
in the general preparatory treatment of the manu- 
script that which is unfilmable and inessential, but 
only that which one can positively accept as the 
plastic, expressive "high" points of the film. As 
prop-points in the above example could be design-, 
ated the character of a scene, expressing dire pover- 
ty, or a deed, (not words) , which characterizes 
the relationship of the . daughter to the friend. 
One could reply that the work on the plastic form 
belongs already to the subsequent stages and can 
be left up to the director. Against this, I stress 
the point once more, that one must always keep 
in mind the plastic form as the goal. Already at 
the start of the work, one must know exactly 
where one wishes to go, if one desires to avoid 
serious difficulties later. . For example, I would 
draw attention to the above-mentioned entirely 
unnecessary and unplastic word "often". 

We have, however, established, the necessity 
for the author to orient himself towards the plastic 
material, which is finally decisive for the form of 
his presentation. 


We now turn to the general questions, in par- 
ticular to the problem of the concentration of the 
stuff. There is a whole series of rules, which 
regulate the construction of the narrative, the novel 
and the drama. They all correspond closely with 
the work on the manuscript, but to discuss them 
in detail would far overstep the boundaries of this 
book. Out of the group of problems dealing with 
general construction, only one question shall be 
mentioned here. The author must at all times 
during the work on the script take into consider- 
ation the different degrees of tension in the action. 
This tension must finally cause a reaction in the 
spectator in that it forces him to follow the pic- 
ture with lesser and greater excitement. This ex- 
citement depends not alone on the dramatic situa- 
tion, but it can also be evoked through purely ex- 
ternal methods. The linking up of the dynamic 
moment, in the action, the introduction of scenes, 
which render conspicuous the intensification of the 
energy of the actors: all this effects the increase of 
excitement in the spectator and one must learn so 
to form the manuscript that the progressive action 
captures comulatively the interest of the spectator, 
so hat the strongest emotional factor is ungeared 
through the climax. A great mass of manuscripts 
suffer from the poor manipulation of the attention 
factor. As an example, one may cite the Russian 
film The Adventure of Mr. West. The first three 
reels are looked upon with constantly mounting 
interest. The cowboy, who has arrived in Mos- 
cow with the American visitor, Mr. West, falls 
into a series of difficult situations and gets out 
of them with a cleverness that constantly builds 
up the interer . of the audience. The first reels, 
thoroughly dynamic, ate "easy to look upon" and perfect "exDose" for the director who in rcf ec- 


hold the spectator in constantly mounting excite- 
ment. But after the end of the third reel, when the 
adventures of the cowboy come to an end through 
an unexpected finale, there is a natural reaction in 
the spectator, and the continuation, despite the 
excellent direction, is seen with far less interest. 
And the last reel, the weakest of the whole film, 
(a journey through the streets of Moscow and 
through some sort of dreary factories) , finally 
eradicates the impression and leaves the spectator 

As an interesting example of the opposite correct 
manipulation of the mounting of the tension- 
moment in the action may be cited the films of the 
well-known American director, Griffith." He 
even created a type of film-climax designated with 
his name, which is being used by m:\ny of his fol- 
lowers to this day. Let us take, for instance, the 
aforementioned film, Hate. The young worker, "' 
having been dismissed on acount of his participa- 
tion in a strike, comes to New York and then falk; 
in with a gang of thieves. But after he meets the 
beloved girl, he decides to seek an honest occupa- 
tion. However the dark elements will not leave 
him in peace- Finally, they involve him in a mur- 
der case and the worker is thrown into jail. The 
evidence is so unquestionable, that the jury con- 
demns him to death. In the end, the young girl, 
who meanwhile has become his wife, unexpected- 
ly discovers the murderer. Her husband is already- 
prepared for execution; only the governor has the 
power to revoke the sentence, and he has just left 
the city in an express train. Then begins a wild 
chase to save the hero's life. The woman races 
in a speedster, whose driver has been given to un- 
derstand that upon his speed depends a human life, 
towards the train. In the cell the man confesses 
before his death. — The auto has almost reached 
the express. — The preparations for the execution 
near the end- In the very last moment, when the 
noose is supposed to slip around the neck of the 
hero, comes the pardon, which was obtained by the 
wife with the last degree of energy and exertion. 
The quick change of these shots (montage-im- 
ages) , the vividly contrasted change of the racing 
machine with the methodical preparations for the 
execution of an innocent human being, the con- 
stantly mounting unrest of the spectator, "will 
she get there or not?", all this forces a heighten- 
ing of excitement, which through its solution in the 
finale, ends the film happily. 

The method of Griffith combines inner dramatic 
fullness of action with masterly exploitation of 
external effects. His films can be used as mas- 
ter examples of correctly built-up intensification. 
A thoroughly worked out script, in which al! 
lines of action are clearly laid down, in which the 
essential situations of the actors are designated, in 
which finally, the action is skilful.y intensified 
and mounted in such a way, that solution, satisfac- 
tion and climax fall together: such . script is the 




tion upon the "plastic material", upon the "image 
reaction" (optical effect) . transforms it into con- 


The next stage in the work of the author is al- 
ready the particularized cinematographic treatment 
of the subject. Up to now, the subject has re- 
ceived no essential cinematographic designation: it 
has had so to say, only an adaptation for the film 
based on principles. Now the phase of the 
plastically animated treatment of the picture comes 
to the fore. The manuscript must be divided in- 
to parts, the parts into episodes, these into scenes, 
the scenes into single placements, which correspond 
to the pieces, out of which finally the film-strip 
is pasted together. The reels (Akte) must not 
be allowed to exceed a certain length and the manu- 
script-writer must learn to feel them. The aver- 
age length of a reel consists of from 300 to 400 
meter. In order to feci this length correctly, one 
must take the following into consideration- The 
projection-machine runs, at average speed, one 
metre in 3 seconds. Consequently, the entire 
reel runs within 20 minutes. If one tries to 
visualize the corresponding scenes, belonging to 
each single reel as they run on the screen, and takes 
into consideration the cime which they require in 
running, one can then calculate the amount of 
scenes it takes to provide the contents of one reel. 

A manuscript thoroughly worked out in scenes 
has the following appearance: 

1. Scene 
On a country road a peasant wagon drags slow- 
ly along, sinking in the mud. Sad and unwilling 
the driver urges the tired horse on. In the corner 
of the wagon cowers a figure and huddles itself 
up in an old soldier's cloak, in order to get protec- 
tion from the sharp wind. An approaching 
wanderer stops curiously, the driver addresses him: 

Title: > 

"Is it still far to Nabin?" 
The wanderer points with his hand. The 
wagon continues on its way, while the wanderer 
gazes after it. 

^ 2. Scene 

Peasant hut. On the bench in the corner lies 
an old, white-haired man, covered with rags; he 
breathes heavily. A little old mother busies her- 
self around the stove and angrily clatters about 
with pots and pans. The sick man turns around 
with difficulty and says to her: 

"It seems to mc that somebody is knocking?" 
The old woman steps to the window and looks 


"No, old man. You are mistaken; it is only 
the wind, rattling the door." 

A manuscript worked out in such a form, that 
is already divided into single scenes and titles, re- 

presents the first phase of filmic treatment. But 
it is still far from the final form of the finished 
continuity which alone can serve as the funda- 
mental structure for the shooting. One should 
consider the fact that a whole series of character- 
istic details arc presented here in narrative form, 
as for instance, "sinking in the mud", "the sad 
driver' , "huddled in a soldier's cloak", "sharp 
wind", etc. All these descriptive particulars would 
not be impressed upon the spectator, if they were 
used merely as "properties" (Requisiten) and if 
the scene as a whole, were photographed just as it 
is described. In order to bring these particulars into 
effective development, the film has its own peculiar 
and effective method, thanks to which, one can 
draw the spectator's attention to each single detail. 
Through this method, one does not just casually 
become aware of "bad weather — two people in a 
wagon", but each of the details is effectively re- 
presented. This method is called Montage.* 
Some manuscript writers use a somewhat similar 
means, in that they often bring into the descrip- 
tion of the scene, a so-called close atmospheric shot. 
for example, "Village street", "Festival Day", "a 
peasant family centered around a lively gesticulat- 
ing communist, new groups step up to them, they 
raise their voices loudly in protest, etc". Such 
insertions arc better omitted as they have nothing 
in common with Montage. The terms "inser- 
tion" (Einfuegung) and "interruption" (Unter- 
brechung) are absurd concepts, which are merely 
left-overs of the old misunderstanding of kino- 
technical methods. All details, which belong to 
scenes of the aforementioned kind, should not be 
inserted into the scene, but the scene must be built 
up out of them. We shall go over to montage, 
as the fundamental method of effectively influenc- 
ing the spectator from the screen, when we have 
given the necessary explanations regarding the 
fundamental types and the choice of the plastic 

— — — — —I— WW — M^— i — W|t— — — i— — mi w , 

*This refers only to the montage (or building-up) o the 
details of atmosphere, as described in the scenes on the pre- 
ceding page. 

Trans. Note 

Part II of Pudowkin's book will appear in the 

The following books have been received and 
will be reviewed in the next issue of "Experimental 

"An Hour with the Movies and Talkie. 1 . — 
G. Seldes — Lippincott, Phila., Pa. 

"The Crisis in the Film — J. G. Fletcher — - 
Univ. of Washington Chap Books. 

"Exposition of Decorative & Modern Industrial 
Art'' — Larousse, Paris. 

"American Annual of Photography", 1930 — 
American Photographic Publ., Boston. 

"Films of Today and Tomorrow" 
Richter, Berlin. 




.A V <« A. *> 

V V 


'OR nine months, ever since the Hollywood Film- 
— ' arte Theatre at 1228 North Vine Street re-open- 
ed its doors with the Dreyer film., Passion of 
Joan of Arc, the American film-capital has had an 
unusual opportunity to take a course in cinema art. 
Outstanding pictures from practically every country 
have been shown here The nation best represented 
was, of course. Soviet Russia. What would a film-art 
theatre be without Russian films? .... 

The following is a list of the Russian films shown 
in Hollywood since September, 1929, in chrono- 
logical order: 




HER WAY OF LOVE (Das Weib des Gacdisten) 


IN OLD SIBERIA (Zuchthaus Nach Sibirien) 


FLAMES ON THE VOLGA (Revolt in Kazan) 


THE NEW BABYLON {Kampf Urn Paris) 

In some cases the prints were inexcusably bad. 
Ten Days That Shook The World looked like the 
victim of a Ku Klux Klan or an American Legion 
mauling. At least one-third of the scenes were out 
of place or upside down and had to be correctly re- 
patched; titles were run two, three or four together, 
with the intercut scenes hundreds of feet further ahead 
in the material: and the general condition of the 
print was scratchy and dirty — defects due to the 
cheapness of the laboratory work and to the care- 
lessness of handling. Such customary defiling of 
Russian film-prints that find their way to Amer- 
ica and other foreign countries naturally weakens 
the tonal impression of the photography — very 
important to the general effect in Russian films — 
and causes the "victimized" film to appear jumpy 
and old. or badly mounted. Despite censorship, 
Arsenal probably suffered less in these respects than 
any of the other Soviet productions brought to 

How do the American movie people react to 
the cinema masterpieces of Soviet Russia. How 
do famous direc: ors, who get thousands of dol- 
lars a week, react to the directing of Eiscnstein 
— Dovzhenko — Raismann — Trauberg — 
Preobrajonskaja — whose collective salary per 
month in the Soviet Union amounts to less than 
the weekly check of a single big American 'star'" 

And the "stars" ■ those magnificently tailored 

religious ido's of the American public what 

do the "stars" think of the acting in the Soviet 
films, of the dynamic close-ups of working-men 
peasant women, revolutionaircs. etc? How does 

Miss Dolores Gorgeous, who teaches millions of 
young girls the magic by- words: "Oh, don't you 
understand?" and "I love you, Pierre. I love you" 
— how does Gorgeous feel when she sees Emma 
Zessarskaja tell a husky Russian peasant to go to 
hell, that the old order is over and the new re- 
gime of Communism is at hand? What does the 
little grey haired actress. who plays "mother 
roles" in sixty-four out of sixty-five Hollywood 
"tearjerkers", think of the real mothers in Po- 
temkin, Arsenal, New Babylon, etc., not waving 
flags, but killing officers in defense of their young. 
not gushing songs about "clouds-with-silver-lin- 
ings", but risking their lives behind barricades to 
help their husbands and sons against the imperia- 
list rulers of the world- . . . Hollywood's "cutters" 
— what do they say when they witness triumphs 
of montage-cutting in the Tartar's dance of "Ten 
Days, in the massacre of Potemkin or in the revo- 
lutionary episodes of Arsenal? And the camera- 
men, - — how enthusiastic are they when they ob 
serve the photography of Russian cameramen — 
of Tisse Golownia, Feldmann, Demutzki, etc? 

It is of course impossible to make a report that 
will cover every individual reaction. Even the 
best general statement necessarily neglects to in- 
clude a great many "buts", "ifs ", and "perhapscs" 
These statements are based, sometimes verbatim, 
on the verbally expressed reactions of American 
movie-people. v 

Potemkin and Ten Days That Shook the World 
were by far the biggest "box-office" attractions at 
the Filmartc. Particularly. Ten Days. There 
was widespread amazement throughout the Amer- 
ican film-industry at the night photography of 
this film, especially the night photography of the 
perspective mass-shots during the storming of the 
Winter Palace- 

The mass-scenes, both of Potemkin and Ten 
Days, came in for a due share of astonishment zno 
disbelief. Directors, assistant-directors, tech- 
nicians, etc., who were questioned, were emphatic 
in their conviction that these scenes (specifically. 
the Bolshevist demonstration and' machine-gun 
episode on Sadovaja street, in Ten Days) , were 
not produced but were taken from news-reels. 
They chose to ignore the fact that at the time oi' 
these events, there was no filming at all in Russia 
and hardly any equipment, and that whatever 
equipment there was, had been sabotaged by the 
fleeing bourgeois owners of the few small pre- 
Revolutionary studios. Similarly, they believed 
that the character of Lenin was not played but real 
— news-reel shots of Lenin underground and so 
on . . . 


— "U 



A great amount of curiosity was aroused by the 
hanging horse in Ten Days. Directors speculated 
with one another whether the horse was real or 
dummy. If. dummy — not bad. If real - — ■ 
those bestial Bolsheviks! .... 

There was also speculation, ridicule and 
general wise-cracking about the symbolism. The 
Hollywood movie-people wanted to know : 
"What's the idea of all the statues?" This reac- 
tion was noted in respect to practically all the 
Soviet films shown here. 

Directors, cutters, picture-people variously em- 
ployed (scenarists, continuity-writers, etc.), whose 
views were sought in course of conversation and 
discussion, also severly criticized the cutting. They 
wanted to know why Eisenstein cut back and forth 
so much and so fast. Soviet films have become 
known here as the pictures with "choppy cutting". 
Explanations of the montage-technique are invari- 
ably met with complaints about the alleged 
"strain" on the eyesight which this necessitates. 
One Hollywood movie-man, who relieved himself 
of a heated denunciation of all Russian films, re- 
gards the "choppy cutting" of these films as an 
indication of the "backwardness" of their tech- 
nique and as evidence that the Soviet film-industry 
must have reached the stage "where the American 
movies were fifteen years ago" when eye-strain was 
the price paid for looking at the "flickers". 

Minor reverberations of these general critical re- 
actions resounded to the less famous Russian films. 
For example, much noise was made over the "cruel- 
ty" of killing the puppy in Stabavoj's Two Days. 
Here was the proof, right by the "Reds" them- 
selves,, God-sent to the righteous, upstanding pro- 
ducers of anti-Soviet propaganda pictures, which 
depict the Hollywood "conception" of the Russian 
"revolution", that the Bo'sheviks, after all, like the 
Huns during the war, are fiends who bayonet 
babies for Sunday pleasure and chew up young 
girls for evening meals! Although all the Amer- 
ican movie-people interviewed were not absolutely 
positive that they could duplicate some of the 
fecenes in Ten Days That Shook the World or 
Potemkin. most of them sincerely insisted that they 
could make much better films than Two Days, In 
Old Siberia, Her Way of Love, etc (on some other 
revolution) "if they weren't 'in it' for the money." 

A few individuals connected with the American 
movie-world, also "in it for the money", were a 
bit more willing to credit Eisenstein and the other 
Soviet directors with some ability and intelligence. 
They admired, according to their fancy, the photo- 
graphy here, or a mass-scene there, or the dance of 

the Tartars in Ten Days, or the wheat field scenes 
in The Village of Sin or the tornado in Her Way 
of Love .... 

The reactions of the Hollywood lay public are 
more difficult to get at. 

The average audience in attendance at Filmarte 
showings is a stormy combination of Los Angeles 
radicals with "White Russian" emigres — ex- 
counts, ex-dukes, ex-chamber-maids of the Czar 
and all the flotsam and jetsam of the late Czar's 
regime, who have found welcome, shelter and 
warm beds among the "Aristocracy" of America's 
movie colony. In between these two antagonistic 
elements, are all shades 3nd species of individuals 
of the much-advertised "great American masses ". 

Nevertheless, practically all intelligent and 
serious-minded individuals within a fifty-mile 
radius of Hollywood have generously patronized 
the Filmarte Theatre, even when it was forced to 
run films less meritorious than the Russian. 

In contrast to this popular support, the studios 
yielded only a very small percentage of their total 
population. With the exception of one or two 
studios, that permitted placards to be posted, no 
interest was shown. One company requested cer- 
tain of its directors and cameramen to see Ten 
Days That Shook the World "to learn the real 
way how to film a revolution"! Another com- 
pany asked a private showing of Potemkin for its 
technical staff. A third requested certain depart- 
ments to see In Old Siberia .... Outside of this 
purely momentary attention, dictated by a specific 
temporary necessity, the Hollywood studios ex- 
hibited no more than passing curiosity, and ab- 
solutely no genuine interest, in the Soviet films. 

When the wheat field shots of The Village of 
Sin appeared, the audience at every performance of 
the film, literally moved by the beauty of the 
landscape and photography, applauded. 

Ta'o Days was enthusiastically applauded at 
the end of every showing, throughout its run. 

Ten Days That Shook the World was applaud- 
ed thunderously throughout the film and at its 
conclusion. Not only the Communists, but the 
intelligent bourgeois public, hailed it as a master- 
piece of directorial genius and motion picture art. 

The tornado scenes in Her Way of Love, unique 
in the films, were acclaimed by the general public 
every night- 

Potemkin. In Old Siberia, The Yellow Pass — 
all met with the same enthusiastic reception on the 
part of the general public. 




The manifest conclusion to be drawn from 
these facts is that the appreciation of artistic films 
is on a much higher level among intelligent Amer- 
ican groups than "appreciation" among technically 
experience people connected with the American 
movie-industry. In every instance, the latter ex- 
hibited a state of mind absolutely ignorant and 
offensive as contrasted with the open-minded re- 
ceptions given the Russian films by Hollywood 

Hollywood, however, is a zoo of many strange 
animals. The films of the Soviet Union did not 
always find the path so rosy . . . 

That old stand-by, the militant patriot, and 
his twin, the well-to-do jingoist, condescended to 
visit an art-theatre, and when they got there, they 
were shocked to find themselves so cleverly por- 
trayed by Messrs. Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Trau- 
berg, Ozep, Raismann, Poznansky, etc., that it 
was just too hot for comfort. 

After all, it was alright for Sergy Eisenstein to 
use a peacock as a symbol to describe — that is, 
to "express" — dictators of the engineer and sav- 
iour variety; and it was also alright for Dovzhen- 
ko's soldier-rebel to face an august military board 
and calmly announce that he had decided to de- 
mobilize himself regardless of their need of being 
"defended"- True, America must be kept "pure" 
of that sort of thing. But it had all happened in 
Soviet Russia, and any breach of military, patriotic 
or parlor etiquette could be expected there . . . Be- 
sides, Ten Days That Shook the World was a 
famous film, Eisenstein was a famous director and 
a great many people seemed to enjoy the spectacle 
of the Bolshevist Revolution too much for isolated 
protests to be effective. Arsenal, on the other 
hand, although it gave birth to the suspicion in 
some patriotic genius's head that the manager of 
the Filmarte Theatre was trying to build up a 
"little Soviet", was altogether too abstruse to be 
understood. After the first two days, when it ran 
to the tune of the ridicule and wise-cracking of a 
few mentally empty movie-directors, it played to 
an empty house . . . But The New Babylon was 

The New Babylon got too close to home to be 
seen without squirming. Moscow is Moscow, but 
Paris is almost as much America as it is Paris — 
that is, politically speaking . . .One is Russia, 
"Dark Russia", but the other is the Western world. 
And a good American patriot should not without 
blushing behold the sight of French patriots be- 
ing- mado-asses-of by being-shown-singing La 
Marseillaise while Communards starve — especial- 
ly when these patriots are "respectable people" 
with lots of money. It all gets too close to home: 
the faces begin to look too familiar. They no 
longer have that distictively Slavic expression . . . 
So the American patriots "blushed" .... 

There were no less than seven complaints, sev- 
eral of them distinguished for their moneyed vi- 

ciousness. These came from members of a certain 
notorious patriotic society known for its kindly 
habit of blowing up the homes of starving foreign 
workers. These particular important individuals 
were overheard to threaten the Filmarte with "in- 
vestigation". Their country's saviours pronounc- 
ed The A etc' Babylon corruptive, subversive and 
dangerous. Perhaps they would call attention to 
the case at headquarters . . . 

This encounter between the Filmarte Theatre 
and the saviours of the fatherland was merely the 
direct, open manifestation of an attitude which 
had been growing for months and to which less 
vociferous, but not less definite, expression had 
already been given. It is not the first time a pure- 
ly cultural movement has had to meet insult, 
abuse and even active insanity on the part of mili- 
tant patriots, who see red in everything except iff 
their own eye-balls. But in the long run, such 
manifestations of bigotry and bought love do nor 
avail. In the present case, the overwhelming 
majority of people who attend such theatres as the 
Filmarte are happy to be able to witness creative 
masterpieces like the Russian films. The attend- 
ance every time one is shown is the living proof of 
the popular sentiment out here. 

To be complete, this report has only to mention 
that the reception of the Soviet films by profes- 
sional critics on Los Angles newspapers and mag- 
azines was in almost every case enthusiastic and in- 
telligent. Rob Wagner in Script, Arthur Millet 
in the Los Angeles Times, Frank Daugherty in the 
Film Spectator and a number of reporters on 
various papers found these films to be the realiza- 
tion of the oldest hopes for motion picture art. 
Their publicity partly compensated for fhe Amer- 
ican industry's indifference and hostility. 

This is the story of what happened when the 
Soviet film-masterpieces came to Hollywood, the 
"Capital" of the American film-industry and sup- 
posedly of the entire film-world. From the time 
that Potemkin created excitement because of its 
unfaked realism, to the time that Arsenal was 
laughed at and dismissed as something mad and 
The New Babylon was jeered at by the dollar 
patriots — not one important personage of the 
most expensive film-industry in the world came 
out with a public statement encouraging people 
to see these works or advising the industry to 
learn something from them about cinema tech- 

Of course, the American film-producers can 
learn nothing about motion pictures. They know 
it all. By their own admission they make the 
"biggest and best" films in the world . . . 
Hollywood, Cal. S. S. 




yR NTIL we learn to differentiate the senti- 
y mental and narrative values from the filmic 
or cineplastic qualities in a film, the latter 
and greater problem will be neglected. 

Each of the arts has its individual medium and 
the forms and values which it can effect depend 
upon the medium employed. The director who 
tries to blend in the film the effects appropriate 
to other media, injures the aesthetic ensemble of 
his own medium- Consequently a director's 
value is dependent upon his ability to project his 
celluloid results only in filmic terms, and without 
the intervention of any agency (moral, literary 
or pictorial) other than the specific cinematic 

In contrast, we find the entire cinema scene 
dominated by cither the principles of acting, plot, 
dancing, sound, color: or such mawkish items as 
dramatic scqences, divisions of climaxes, rise and 
fall of suspense, the psychology of spectator re- 
actions: — tricks and formulas, and in no sense 
contributing to the cinema that unique quality 
which distinguishes the film from other media 
of expression; and even at best a detriment to 
true film creation. 

The representation of the cinematic world is 
achieved through the modifications of a surface 
(screen) by means of the properties of the motion 
picture camera and projector, (cinematic means) . 
It is the manipulation of these cinematic units 
(the details that constitute the notation of the 
cinema) that objects (subject matter) are given a 
filmic recognition, filmic association and filmic 
unity, entirely different from the recognitions, 
associations, and unit ; es that they had before. The 
business of the director is to integrate the subject 
matter and medium in a filmic synthesis, extract- 
ing the essence of an object or situation and pro- 
jecting it .anew and enriched because of that par- 
ticular filmic unification. This is the process of 
composition and is the arrangement and unifica- 
tion of subject matter and cinematic notation and 
not a mere literal reproduction of objects or in- 

Behind every film is the idea. This idea is 
twofold, subject matter or theme, (this can be 
anything, document, nature, abstractions) and the 
cinematic process. As a result of the modification 
of subject matter under the stress of the cinematic 
notation (long shot, close up, etc., position on the 
screen and in the film as a whole, angle, tempo, 
duration, action, tone, etc. etc.) a quality or form 
embracing the essence of both subject matter and 
notation, _ is projected- This quality, called 
Imagery, is one of three structural elements in the 
cineplastic progression of a film. This element 
of Imagery exhibits itself as the greatest composi- 
tional state (filmic and psychological) of the 

funded cinematic details (matter and notation) . 
Because- of the repetitions in time-space projection 
of shots, (the nature of the film medium) this 
quality of Imagery creates a condition or order 
called Movement. This simply means that our 
senses connect two or more shots and attribute 
a dimension to the spaces between. We imagine 
a line leading from one shot to the other. These 
spaces between are filled in with all degrees of 
durations, intervals and stress. When these 
spaces are ordered, that is, paralleled and organized 
in time-space sequences they create the second of 
the cineplastic homogenities called Movement. 
This quality Movement is conditioned by the 
momentum of the element Imagery and governed 
or controlled by the third cineplastic quality, 
Time Time exhibits itself as the tempo, dura- 
tion, interval and stress of Images, of cinematic 
notation and as the governing factor of Movement 
and its rhythms. 

These cineplastic qualities, Imagery, Movement 
and Time are the structural means for filmic form. 
Question as to which of these elements contribute 
the most to the film, is for the moment unim- 
portant. Movement is the very spirit of object 
or situation- Time is the core of Movement and 
Imagery is the body and essence of the film med- 
ium. Each unreels to project a living whole ex- 
actly as the various parts of a body are all seen to- 
gether and make up the body which consists of 
and lives because of them all. These qualities 
have an independent appeal of their own (regard- 
less of subject matter) and form in the cinema 
can only be created by the arrangements and uni- 
fications of the differentiation of Imagery, Move- 
ment, Time. 

There is no limit to the multiplicity of integra- 
tions of Imagery Movement and Time, bur their 
methods of compositional procedure are displayed 
in the following two types: 

First, as an unreeling of single images, one fol- 
lowing another in a simple linear projection with 
the proportion and the content of the subject mat- 
ter acting as the dominating idea; and the only 
distortions (if any) in the relation of the psy- 
chology of the subject matter itself. This is an * 
illustrative type of film. Actions, scenes, char- 
acters, atmospheres, ideas, are evoked and the film 
is circumscribed by the logic of documentation. 
A two dimensional type of composition and at its 
most fluent will never exceed pattern in painting, 
melody in music, or narration in literature. Near- 
ly ail films to-date are of this order. 

More complex, and as yet unknown to the com- 
mercial cinema is this second type of film com- 
positon. Such a film is projected as a rhythmic 
order with the intensifications not only of subject 
matter, but of imagery (which is its greatest com- 
positional state) and Movement and Time. As a 



result of a structural integration among these cine 
plastic elements there unreels a filmic order of contin- 
uous movement whose beginning and end are syn- 
chronous. A cineplastic ensemble is projected where- 
in the qualities Imagery Movement and Time serve 
as the generating motif for succeeding sequences of 
Imagery. Movement and Time, and which in integ- 
ration evolve toward a summit and conclusion. Each 
new rhythm of Imagery, Movement and Time grow 
naturally out of the initial ones and the composition- 
al steps are wholly dictated by the logic of Cinema 
aesthetics. Such a film contains no climaxes, only 
a completion^ and its formal order is never dictated by 
the values of the subject matter, (social, political, 
religious etc.). The director communicates with the 
spectator without the intervention of any other agen- 
cies than the specific cineplastic elements — Imagery, 
Movement and Time. 

True cinema style implies the ease with which the 
director employs the structural terms- His method 
of film articulation will vary with every shade and 
thought projected in accordance with the needs of 
filmic form, cineplastic form. 

Cineplastic form is the organization by which the 
details that constitute Imagery, Movement and Time 
(subject matter and cinematic notation) are brought 
into filmic relations, fused and integrated so that 
they unite to produce a single cineplastic effect. The 
more complete unification there is, the richer the 
form, and hence the better the film. 

To recapitulate: — The idea, theme etc. must be 
expressed solely in terms of Imagery, Movement and 
Time. The director should not project any of the 
structural terms to such an extent that they distract 
from the perception of the film as a whole. No 
isolated effects, either of photography, decor, acting, 
cinematic angle, tone, movement etc. or overaccentua- 
tion of psychological values should absorb the at- 
tention of the spectator; but combine to create a 
filmic whole which consists of and lives because of 
that particular integration of Imagery, Movement and 

Lewis Jacobs 












- ■ ■ 

Strip from Pudoivhin's film "Mother", mounte<' psycho- 
logically to convey a filmic idea. 



(Continuation of "Film Problems of Soviet 


The major problem confronting the film-maker 
of the USSR is the thorough treatment of the 
social theme. By thorough treatment is meant 
non-sentimental or critical treatment. It is the 
social idea as against populism. The latter is the 
concern with the popular expression as a fact in 
itself, uncritically. We have known it in politics 
here; we have known it in the "highbrow" infla- 
tion of the popular idiom: "jazz", "slang", 
"movie", etc. In Russia it evinces itself in pro- 
fessional peasant-poetry exaggerating the peasant 

as an ideal, an inimical propounding in the pro- 
letarian dictatorship. The critical expression of 
society in the USSR is articulated in the Marx- 
ian dialectics, and its conversion into the form of 
the cinema is a structural problem. The solution 
of this problem determines the degree of achieve- 
ment in the single instance of a film, as well as 
in the entire Soviet kino. 

Dialectics as drama is conflict — and that is 
its structure in the film. There is the THESIS 
— the status quo. The ANTITHESIS a serts it- 










■^HE stage and the motion picture make use of 
1 the dramatic types: melodrama, farce, comedy, 
■ tragedy and burlesque in the delineation of 
character and scenes, and there any likeness be- 
tween the two forms begins and ends. The med- 
ia of film and stage are wholly unlike in the 
mounting of the completed production. Each 
form has its own advantages, laws and character- 
istics, and in our time practitioners in cinema and 
the theatre have demonstrated their incapacity to 
utilize fully those advantages and laws. The 
theatre, for instance, has neglected to enter into the 
tempo of our time by adhering to the picture- 
frame, peepshow stage, with its spatial confines for 
the player and for the movement of the play, in- 
stead of devising and constructing stages that 
would free the drama and the player from the li- 
mitations of back wall and border lights. 

Since the bourgeois theatre is one of the most 
conservative of institutions, it may take many 
years before its leaders realize the effect of its de- 
bilitating mechanics and ideology upon both the 
stage and the motion picture. The theatre might 
overcome the lethargic pace on its boards by re- 
turning to the Greek practice of continuous action, 
as has been demonstrated recently in The Trial 
of Mary Dugan. This method preserves not only 
continuity of action, but keeps the situations intact 
instead of splitting them into three and four acts, 
and utilizes movement in a manner that' is lacking 
in the conventional modern play, with its time 
lapses suggested by the falling curtain before an 
intermission. Why should the spectator attend a 
play with intermissions, time lapses and interrup- 
tions when the ->ame play can be read at home 
without breaks in the continuity? It would seem 
that the theatre could return in many instances to 
the classic forms with profit. For one thing, the 
stage has obviously distinctive features foreign to 
the technique of the motion picture, - - such as the 
actual presence of the actor, the sound of actual 
living speech, rich color gradations in objects, tex- 
tures and lighting - - all mingled in a kind of in- 
timacy between audience and actor that is not pos- 
sibie in cinema. Esthetically, there is no more 
rivalry between the visual power of the best films 
and the connotative speech in the best plays than 
there is between an image on the screen and an ac- 
tor on the stage. Each form has its own place. 
To say that the screen is an alternative artistically 
preferable to the theatre is to submit a comparison 
determined by personal taste rather than by fact. 
Nevertheless, the stage and cinema, each in its own 
way/makes us feel things differently and by dif- 

ferent means- Where the stage offers a combined 
emotional and intellectual appeal through the liv- 
ing actor and human voice, the motion picture pro- 
duces the same effect with its flowing dynamic im- 
ages and patterns. The images are shadow and 
light in motion; they must be dramatically and vis- 
ually significant. This dramatic and visual sig- 
nificance is made apparent according to the manner 
in which the scenes are planned in the script, then 
played, photographed, directed and their images 
mounted. The cutting determines length, tempo 
and quality of imagery in the mounting, and after 
that is done, pace is regulated by the projector. 
Obviously the stage does none of these things be- 
cause the stage is not cinema. 

The cinema gives us visual intimacy of objects 
and forms - - such as closeups of anything from a 
a pair of eyes to a mass scene containing thousands 
of images. The appeal of the film is first visual, 
chen emotional, and lastly intellectual. The cin- 
ema overcomes space and depth, save in those films 
wherein the film merchants have sought deliberate- 
ly to imitate the stage. On the screen a figure 
may become the size of a tennis ball like the man 
in the arena of Victor Seastrom's film version of 
He Who Gets Slapped and be magnified to strik- 
ing proportions that make the nose and eyes fill 
the screen. It frees us from the physical limita- 
tions of time by flashing back into past centuries 
and cutting forward into the future. It frees us 
of actuality through such devices as dissolves, fade- 
ins, fade-outs and double-exposures which lend 
themselves to moods of fantasy, to liberties with 
♦:he actual a^d temporal. 

The theatre is bound by the actualities of space 
and time. Occasionally, a playwright for example 
Molnar, in The Red Mill, specifies a rapid change 
of scene with sliding sectional walls, that face the 
audience, each section covering a scene in process 
of arrangement- But The Red Mill is not pure 
theatre since its technique infringes so heavily upon 
the movie scene that its effect is wearisome. The 
theatre play must function on a basis of chrono- 
logical progression; it cannot cut back into time. 
In a few plays the movie type of progression has 
been tried, — notably in Dear Brutus, Marco's Mil- 
lions, and The Beggar on Horseback, but the suc- 
cess of such plays has not been attained as a con- 
jequence of the treatment of time, but rather be- 
cause of other elements of appeal which neutral- 
ized the effect of an undramatic handling of time. 
Events that happen on the stage must follow one 
another consecutively. The last act in a drama 
ran not tell us what has happened during the first 




act and the third act cannot cut back to the first 
or second act, nor can the first act alternate with 
the last act. Least of all, can the stage build up 
an idea by means of a synthesis of scenes unrelated 
to each other in physical content, as appears so 
often in Russian films; in some German and 
Swedish films. 

The theatre mounts productions with scenes 
on the stage. The screen, flat and two dimen- 
sional, flashes shadow-images that are fragmentary 
reproductions of scenes and objects. The player 
and the fragments of him on the screen form 
images . . . visual fragments that show the most 
delicate motion of the lips, an eye, and contribute 
to the completion of the idea. An image natural- 
ly does not fill physical space as does the actor 
on the stage- Yet, the images make us conscious 
of their meaning by their movement on the screen. 
The theatre offers us physical actuality because 
unlike the film, it is not a pattern in flowing 
images, a difference which brings the film closer 
to emotional experience. The film is not con- 
cerned with physical actuality but with physical 
illusion, which directs its appeal to the emotions 
through the eye before the observer has time to 
rationalize his emotional reaction. 

On the stage, the resonant voice issues from a 
living body. Living voices are foreign to shadow- 
images. Absence of voice puts the image into the 
category of illusion, although the motion and in- 
terlacing of images and patterns may suggest real- 
ity. Motions of the fingers, of the hands, of the 
head may build inner states and all the moods 
that can be expressed by speech and voice. In the 
theatre, there is rapport between the emotions of 
the audience and the emotions of the players; but 
the images of the screen may stir our emotions 
just as deeply without this personal relationship. 
Conversation on the directs our minds to 
past events, which are pictured by the cut-back in 
the film. Thus images on the screen function 
similarly to words and speech on the stage. Be- 
cause tradition has controlled the architectural 
form of our playhouses, spectators in different 
sections of the theatre have different lines of vi- 
sion — those in the front row orchestra, center, 
look up at the actors; those in rear orchestra see 
them directly in a straight line; those in either the 
balcony or gallery look down upon the actors: 
and those on either side of the house have sharply 
angular lines of vision. However definitely the 
stage director may arrange a setting or the action 
of a scene, the audience gets the effect from dif- 
ferent angles. The motion picture presents 
scenes, the dimensions of whose patterns appear 
the same to every spectator in the cinema house- 
On- the stage even the most imaginative effects 
are bound by actuality. Gauze and color light- 
ing are combined to suggest both mood and actu- 
ality. The motion picture, as in Rex Ingram's 
The Four Horsemen to mention only one example. 
can ignore actuafity and with devices peculiar to 
cinema, depict images, such as horses, chariots and 

symbolic figures dashing across the sky and then 
advancing towards the spectator. 

The stage cannot use inanimate objects to sug- 
gest mood, thoughts, character, environment, or 
foreshadowing of events, as is possible in the mo- 
tion picture. Murnau does it in Sunrise with the 
floating bullrushes: Eisenstein gives a most elabo- 
rate and concrete example of the possibilities of 
meaning in inanimate objects in Ten Days That 
Shook The World. The dramatic aspects of the 
drawbridge in Ten Days make of that mechanism 
a living thing; Kerensky pictured dreaming of 
Napoleonic power as he plays with a toy crown 
and places it on quarter-shaped crystal perfume 
bottles, repetition of the theatrically despotic as- 
sumed pose by Kerensky; the swinging gun in 
Potemkin; the legs of a carcass of meat in the cel- 
lar, suggestive of the petty burgeois butcher's lust 
in Stroheim's Wedding March illustrate the sym- 
bolic u>e of the inanimate object in cinema. 

The stage makes no pretense of showing per- 
spective in unlimited space. The motion picture 
is limited in this respect only by the horizon line 
where situation may be built by the director: dark, 
sharp-edged masses in the foreground lend to the 
illusion of distance on the horizon. 

Pantomine on the stage is limited usually in 
that its action suggests movement but not sound. 
On the motion picture screen the motion of the 
players and objects can suggest any kind of sound, 
from human speech to the whirr of machinery. 
Alternating scenes are a rarity on the stage. In the 
motion picture, they are essential to show the ac- 
tual relation of one situation to another, of one 
mood to another- On the stage all the action 
takes place within the limits of set scenes. De- 
spite the efforts of Eugene O'Neill to handle the 
setting psychologically as a "stage picture" it is al- 
ways fairly defined over a period of time, no mat- 
ter how cleverly Robert Edmund Jones may suc- 
ceed in disguising the actualities of wood, canvass 
and paint. Here is one of the major limitations 
of the drama .... it must conform to the condi- 
tions of the theatre. It is possible we shall never 
see some plays satisfactorily presented until we 
have greater architectural variety in our playhouses. 
The necessity for such variety has been proved by 
the spatial demands of plays like The Hairy Ape. 
The Beggar on Horseback, Lazarus Laughed and 

In the motion picture, action may occur any- 
where — on the street, on a mountain top, in the 
air, below the sea, on the walls of buildings. — 
and may be depicted from many angles. Lastly, 
the play written for the stage is arranged to har- 
monize with the purposes of dialogue in conjunc- 
tion with conventional stage movements. The 
stage play is built essentially upon speech: at times 
it may achieve even literary form. The photo- 
play is built in the language of cinematic images, 
and these are described in words that compose the 
continuity. It has no affinity with dialogue, al- 
though American studio practitioners are inc'ined 





to use too many explanatory or conversational 
sub-titles, instead of terse phraseology indicative 
of a mood, a pause, or a time lapse, bound up with 
montage. Even so, the scenarist and director who 
know montage seek to avoid the sub-title and to 
work wholly with images. Curiously enough, 
in the current talking pictures, sub-titles are 
spoken . 

The stage director deals with actual situations 
carried out by players whose "business" he regu- 
lates. He works with actual time, in actual 
space, from the start to the finish of a produc- 
tion. Actual plastic forms, actual time and 
actual space are his materials for building up to 
the high point in a drama. But in the cinema, 
the director works with filmic time, which is not 
subject to causality: By means of what he does 
with the piecing together and mounting of the 
images on the film strip, the director gives the 
screen a time all its own. Filmic time is a reality 
produced by the film director, just as he creates 
its rhythms which have no relation to the actual 
rhythms of the stage. "The film", writes Pu- 
dowkin, "is a succession of visual images moving 
through their own world, their own time, their 
own space". The film therefore, is not con- 
cerned with the reproduction of actuality as it 
appears on the stage or in life, but with the crea- 
tion of reality through the meaning which the 
director gives the images by his mounting in the 
script, on the set, and in the film strip- His 
principle tool for forging reality is that of sug- 
gestion — the selective visual essence of events, 
of time, of space. 

The basic element of the theatre scene is scenic 
totality. The basic element of the film is the 
fragment of the totality, scene, or object. This 
distinction so long neglected by Hollywood and 
Neubabelsberg, was made clear by Fernand Leger, 
the French painter, who first called attention to 
this violation of cinematic principles by theatre- 
minded film practitioners. The strongest, 
clearest, deepest impressions on the mind and the 
emotions are inherent in the implication given the 
fragment by the directorial will. It can suggest 
a world of meaning by an ear, a stairway, a stat- 
ue's head, or part of a bottle, all depending upon 
the film director's skill in montage. The early 
phase of the film merely was confined to specula- 
tion about its possibilities as to motion. It was 
looked upon as a novelty or stunt discovery. Ex- 
periments were limited at first to taking images on 
the film strip of ordinary scenes or objects, in city. 
on sea, and in country lanes. Later recruits from 
the stage began to experiment with the film. Such 
scenes as were taken by them were in the stage 
manner and were merely photographs of player:; 
going through stage business, illustrated by many 
long titles that robbed the images of any pos- 
sible significance- The director, u r from the 
theatre, indicated the two points between the ac- 
tion, the entrance and the exit as in the theatre, 
taking scenes in their totality, just as they might 

have appeared on the stage. This application of 
directorial theatre technique to the cinema, plus 
the influence of players, who for the most part 
were from the stage and the destructive factory 
methods of Hollywood, played havoc with the 
development of the medium of the motion picture. 
Scenes were mounted in progression in the film- 
strip the same as in a theatre, instead of being 
broken down analytically to build definite visual 

In The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance were 
first revealed the self-contained elements of the mo- 
tion picture independent of the stage. Griffith 
showed that the cinema could soar beyond the 
architectural barriers of the theatre, that greater 
emotional significance could be given objects when 
they were viewed from every possible angle. In- 
stead of using the totality of the theatre scene, 
Griffith broke the scene into fragments of vis,ual 
suggestion. He made the camera flexible. He 
used the visual impression of the moment, of the 
fragment, as means with which to interpret deep- 
ly and dynamically character and situation. The 
fragment, the dominant important visual element 
of the film bears no relation to the actuality of . 
nature or of the theatre. The theatre imparts'' 
meaning through the totality of all its forms, the 
film transmits meaning through the fragment of 
the totality ... .of a crowd, a man, a street, a bil- 
liard table, a hand, things seen with the shifting 
glance of the eye. In the theatre, the spectator 
must organize his attention. In the cinema, the 
director must assume the task of organizing the 
attention of the spectator in the montage. 

In this brief exposition of the difference be- 
tween the stage and cinema, we have sought to con- 
sidcr the fundamental distinctions between the two 
in the matter of medium and of mechanics. With 
forms so thoroughly self-contained, wherever 
imitation is attempted, the result is never satisfy- 
ing. The theatre can no more be cinema than 
the cinema can be theatre. Each form has its 
own esthetic laws and special methods of produc- 
tion; each develops its own practices, and imita- 
tion of one by the other reduces such production 
to a mechanical process that is neither cinema or 
theatre. The motion picture of tomorrow, of 
which the triumphant Soviet films are prophetic, 
will be guided by image-minded poets, artists and 
philosophers., and will convey meaning only 
through images freed from the intrusion of the 
theatre and all other non-cinematic elements. 

\ T ote : 

Consideration here of the differences 
in the technique of the theatre and 
of the motion picture excludes the 
audible film because the latter is 
neither cinema nor theatre 





Translated by Vivian Chideckcl 

THROUGH mere coincidence the films of 
George Melics, produced from 1902 to 1912, 
and the last work* of S. M. Eiscnstein and 
Alexandroff. Soviet directors^ were projected in 
Paris during the same week. There was thus af- 
forded an opportunity to suggest a point not yet 
brought out concerning these films representing in 
some manner two poles of the silent cinema, 
(since it is necessary to contemplate henceforth the 
contribution of the "Talkmg" and the "Sonorous" 
before color and relief, moreover near at hand). 
and expressing the sense and character of the re- 
searches of yesterday and today. 

George Melics was, by first profession, a prcs- 
tigitator. In adopting the camera he remained a 
magician. His imagination and technique led him 
to play with images, using all the resource of 
magic that for the most part he had devised, just 
as he had loved to juggle, striving to amuse, in the 
dark room of the Dufaycl, children temporarily 
abandoned by parents in quest of bargains. But 
it happens that these films have kept enough power 
and fantasy to interest us today in our turn. 
Ridicule and charm go neighboring there with the 
movement and ingenuity which, without doubt, 
inspired the American Mack Sennett, creator of 
flickering comedies, in an epoch when the French 
film represented seventy-five percnt of the cinema- 
tographic production of the world. The clever- 
ness of Melies is extraordinary, though the literary 
surrealism attains nothing in Le voyage dans la 
(u,ne, Les quatre cents coups du diable and A la 
conquete du pole. And without doubt, if Melies 
had not taken chances in the drama (Le Juif errent 
gives us a foretaste) his films would have been 
worth no more than I'Assassinat du due de Guise, 
"superproductions" of the same period that certain 
houses of the vanguard were pleased to project 
these last years for the great amusement of the 

George Melies represents exactly the cinema- 
tographic pre-war comedy with a spirit in some 
way primitive, which makes his work worthy of 
the exhibiting which it will gain henceforth. And 
one can say that quatre cents coups du diable 
is a well executed film in that these diverse parts 
exactly answer to their object. To discuss the 
quality of the object is another question, but one 
cannot fail to acknowledge in this film all its 
historic, its creative value. George Melies will 
remain the precursor. 

Since these heroic times, the photoplay, through 
a thousand adventures without glory, and some 

flashing manifestations, has in vain sought a 
balance. It is that economic necessities keep it in 
an exclusive state of dependency, and that by way 
of expression it carries to its maximum this contra- 
diction of modern societies which opposes art to 
industry. The placing to a technical point, of the 
synchronization of sound and image has not been 
done for disinterested objectives, but only for the 
temporary salvage of a capitalist organization which 
had come to be saturated with sentimental stupid- 
ity, with romantic or polished banality, and the 
weak percentage of a public that had through the 
world stuck to a taste for adventure and a certain 
need of spiritual evasion, without its being a ques- 
tion besides, of appreciating here the quality of this 
taste nor the degree of this need. 

With La Ligne generate one touches to the quick, 
finally, gravest problems rising by the very inten- 
tion of the photoplay inasmuch as it strives to a 
new mode of expression. This film, powerful, 
pathetic, of a poetic intensity sometimes over- 
whelming, astonishingly creating life, attacks in 
front a social problem: the industrialization of the 
peasants, the collectivization of the soil of the 
USSR, a problem and program the more so 
charged with humanity that to their solution, to 
their success, is tragically bound, for a time, the 
destiny of a revolution theme: the poor village, 
and three elements of dramatic progression, name- 
ly the female milk skimmer, a reproductive bu'l, 
an agricultural tractor. The whole film is at- 
tended with freedom, vigorously developed im- 
ages radiant with a force of expression, with a 
lyricism, a truth, not to be forgotten. Here, as 
with George Melies — if one dares this compari- 
son — the film answers exactly to its object, only 
this object is quite on another scale. It is no more 
a question of amusing and making one dream like 
children, but of exalting life, of carrying away 
with itself millions of men, of running routines, 
of abolishing prejudices, of gaining the adhesion 
of a nation of peasants still uneducated to a social 
system which constructs a new order on the ruins 
of individual property. Ambition, one sees, is 
moving. It remains that the significance, from an 
aesthetic point of view, of a film like La Ligne 
generate surpasses that of the highest work that 
the cinematographic has given us since its origin, 
and that the Soviet cinema has offered us with 
The Mother, the Armored Cruiser Potemkin and 
The End of St. Petersburg. It is a quesion of 
nothing less than binding intimately, thanks to 
th& photoplay, the world of sensibility and the 
world of ideas, sentiment and reason, science ard 




art. This intimate connection, Jean Epstein, be- 
fore being director, bad already alluded to in his 
Lyrosophie. but without any cinematographic 
solution, and one would find without doubt in 
the philosophy of Maine de Biran, the premises 
of such theoretical researches. But S. M. Eisen- 
stein, is the first to discover in the photoplay the 
practical means of realizing the imposing fusion. 
Here is how he recently explained himself in an 
article, VAvenir du cinema.*'* 

" . . ■ . Where then is there a difference between the 
perfect method of a symphony and the method per- 
fected in view of the acquisition of new knowledge? 
It is necessary th.:t the new art put an end to the dual- 
ism of these two spheres that are sentiment and reason. 
It is necessary to render to science its sensuality and 
to its intellectual process fire and passion. 

"It is necessary to plunge into the fire boil- 
ing with practical activity — the process of abstract 
thought. It is necessary that collected and speculative 
formula be attached anew to the richness and opulence 
of the living and palpable form. The formal will 
must acquire the exactitude of ideologic formulas. 

"There is the exigency that we create, there 
are the exigencies that we propose to the new epoch of 
art. What form of art is their match' Uniquely and 
only, the cinematography of the intellect, synthesis of 
the film of emotion, of the documentary film and the 
absolute film." 

S. M. Eisenstein insists: 

" • . . . onlv a cinema capable of directly uniting 
dialectic conflicts in the growing of ideas possesses the 
possibility of penetrating the mind of the great masses 
of ideas and new perceptions. Such a cinema, alone. 
will dominate by the form, the summits of modern in- 
dustrial technique. Finally, alone, such a cinema will 
have the right to exist among the miracles of radio, 
television and the theory of relativity. 

"The old type of original cinema, as the 
type of abstract film, will disappear before the new 
concrete film of the intellect." 

There is the question of the progresses of the 
cinema — we mean of its destinies — placed with 
force at the same hour when it seems that the in- 
ternational photoplay has reached an abrupt turn 
in its history. It is that it's a matter of saving a 
mode of expression of adventures, and that one in 
the name of the mind, and not one of the most 
powerful industrial and commercial organizations 
of the world in the name of money. 

From the simple play of images of George Mclies 
to the passionate work of Eisenstein one can meas- 
ure with emotion a decisive stage entirely marked 
by these agitations of the world which will ac- 
company for a long time yet, the birth of the 

•"Old and New" 

* -Monde. November 16, 1929. 


L I 


INCE the advent of the talkies, or more exactly, 
since little more than a year (and before we 
question the value of the talkies) we who live 
in France and love American films are conscious of 
being poor parents of the Cinema. We read reports 
of the talking films that we shall never see, and while 

you work fervently in America on the construction 
of a new cinematographic expression, we aesthetes 
and other cumbersome personages discuss the value 
or the non-value of the talkies. 

But I am forgetting — talking films have been 
produced in Europe but these are neither of the cin- 
ema nor of the theatre, or perhaps more Jghtly they 
have taken from these two forms only what it less in- 
teresting- In general up to now they have had only 
very bad photographic theatre such as the "3 
masques" or that other abominable film of a man 
in whom we were wrong to have confidence, name- 
ly: E. A. Dupont, and his film "Atlantic". 

It is true wc also had Walter Ruttman's "Melody 
of the World". Ruttman is a remarkable mind in 
the European cinema, and if theory, perhaps, has too 
much place in his cinematographic life, you can ex- 
pect from him very beautiful films. "Melody bf 
the World" is not correctly speaking a talkie. It' is 
a document compiled for the most part of extreme 
actuality, but of which he has made the setting in a 
very obvious way, to which he has known how to 
add noises or music which astonishingly reinforce the 
significance of the images. Ruttman is a musician 
and that is felt. The setting is not only, as in many 
Russian films made to dazzle, but a means employed 
soberly to lead us to a necessary crescendo, or to the 
comprehension of his work, of his thought. He has 
not really created a talking film, but he gives us the 
assurance that he knows exactly how to make use of 
image and sound, in a manner so agreeably intelligent 
that we are permitted to expect much from his next 

The others still use sound as a toy. We are still 
in the heroic epic where we admire the perfect coin- 
cidence of the movement of the lips and the sound 
that comes forth. I would never have suspected that 
Europe was so young, pardon, I mean infantile. 
What we admitted to be the vanguard is distinctly 
dying in the interval. The talkie had killed it. Wc 
knew already some time ago that the vanguard which 
promised so much and held nothing was engaged in 
a dangerous impasse from which one cculd sec no 
issue. But the slowness of mind of certain people 
is really terrifying. To use a camera: to seek for 
angles; to discover extraordinary planes is not 
enough. I claim that any camera enthusiast can ob- 
tain today this result: to show a succession of images 
interesting in themselves but insignificant. The 
talkie today again substantiates one idea: one does 
not make a film for images, but because one has some- 
thing to express. The talkie has proved to us tlx 
impossibility of continuing in the way of the van- 
guard of yesterday. A dialogue which says nothing, 
which expresses no idea is more blantantly stupid 
than a succession of inexpressive images- 
Tomorrow's vanguard will no longer busy itself 
in telling us anything with common images. It 
will, on the contrary, tell us much, it will tell us 
important things with the simplicity that sincerity 

Jean Lenaucc 


■ v^^--- 



(Copyright 1930 by WERNER KLINGLER) 

"This proposed ending to "All Quiet On The Western Front" was submitted to ft considered by Univer- 
sal Pictures Corp. but was finally not accepted. 



Sound of firing 

After Katzinsky's death 

LONGSHOT of Paul from behind, 
staggering out into the open field 
towards the French lines. 
MEDIUM CLOSE UP of a French 
machine-gun and crew- 
LONGSHOT of Paul, walking to- 
wards the camera. 

CLOSEL T P of the French machine-gun, 

All shots mirror lightninglike the 
theme of the book and are balanced 
up in such a manner, that in their 
retrospective montage of contrast- 
ing image-values they lead up to 
the apotheosis, passing an impres 
sive judgment on the horrors of 

MEDIUMSHOT of Paul, as he pauses 
hit by a bullet, slowly sinking down. 
CLOSE UP of Paul's face falling 
from the upper picture frame towards 
the lower one. 

CLOSEUP of Paul's EYES. 

He sees, in a vision of quick-charg- 
ing images, becoming more aid 
more rapid, the following pictures, 
(Montage of cutting.) 

The action of Paul's vision occurs 
between the first and last part of 

his fall to the ground. 


(In this visionary action there are 
shown only shots which have d- 
ready occured in the film, except 
four semiotic images indicated 
an asterik.) 


■; ** 







Machine-gun keeps firing 
incessantly, but with in- 
tervals between. 

CLOSE UP OF Paul's mother- 

Voice of. teacher Kantorek: 

A part of that sentence has already 
been heard in the mother-closeup, 
and extends to > 

\ i 

Voice of Paul: 



CLOSEUP of teacher Kantorek in the 


CUT TO CLOSEUP of the student, 

Paul Baumer, in the schoolroom, rising 

with reckless enthusiasm. 

Double-print: firing 
French machine-gun and 
voice of Kantorek: "YOU 

of Paul's eyes. Paul's close up remains 
in the picture. 

POSURE of Iron Cross* coming to- 
wards the camera until it fills out the 
whole screen. 


Christ on Cross* in a cemetery, taken 
from below. 

POSURE of Paul. Christ remains in 
the picture. 

The coins should be generic, but 
not the particular coins of any one 
nation. The glittering quality 
should be emphasized pTiotograph- 






Voice of Kantorek: 

sentence spoken by Kan- 
torek covers all the scenes 
up to Medium closcup of 
soldier Behm- The ex- 
plosion of the shells and 
the yelling of Behm start 
in with the last words of 

Voice of Kemmerich: "Mc 
TOO!" From far away, 
the roar of cannon and the 
tatata of machine-guns. 

Voice of Albert: 

Voice of Kantorek: "ARE 

CLOSEUP OF BEHM as a student in 
schoolroom, shaking his head denying- 

!y- . 

POSURE of Christ. Behm's closcup 
remains in the picture. Behm, still 
shaking his head .... 
BEHM AS A SOLDIER. (Night shot). 
Behm is hurled down on the battlefield 
by an exploding shell. He jumps to 
his feet, blinded, and runs in circles, his 
hands to his eyes- 

RICH (as a student) in schoolroom. 

RICH AS A SOLDIER, dying in hos- 

as a student in schoolroom. 

AS A SOLDIER, getting wounded 
during an infantry attack. 









This sentence spoken by 
Kantorek i s sustained 
throughout the quick 
montage-cuts and vanish- 
es only at that shot when 
Paul finishes his fall to the 

tatata sound of the firing 
machine-gun now very 

in schoolroom. 

CUT TO CLOSEUP OF dead French- 


grave* with many crosses. 
flashed in visual synchronization to 

finishes his fall to the ground. (Shot 
from above) • 

POSURE OF black and white frames. 
There is a smile of peace and calm on 
his face. 

(The arrangement of these last three 
shots represents a nctc type of montage- 


The volume of Kantorck's voice, 
in the beginning very strong, slows 
down gradually during these 
scenes, and as Paul falls to the 
ground, it seems to come from be- 
yond. ' Thus demonstrating the 
spatial and temporal depth of the 
vision and the ascendancy of un- 

The diminution of the volume of 
Kantorck's voice coincides with the 
shortening of the tempo of the pic- 


I Ml 






The now highly magni- 
fied tatatatatata of the 
machine-gun slowly d i :>- 

the sound of a wireless 
telegraph. --.... - - . . . 

Sound of telegraph lingers 




SLOW FADE OUT OF Paul's face. 

After Paul's face has faded from the 
screen, a series of black and white frames 
are flashed, visualizing the --....--- 
...--... of the telegraph. 
FADE IN CLOSEUP OF a hand, hold- 
ing the receiver of a German field-phone 
to ea^ (Objectification close-up) 
forming the words: 

CUT TO CLOSEUP OF the mouth- 
piece of a phone- Camera traveling fast 
towards it, "creeping" into it. When 
the mouthpiece occupies the full screen, 
FADE OUT of picture — and dark- 
ness remains while the las.: words: 

are not only heard from the screen, 
but at one and the same time from 
several loudspeakers, installed in 
different places about the theatre 
(some above, some on the sides, 
some on the floor, lobby) . 
By such an arrangement, the spec- 
tators will directly share all ex- 
perienced emotions, and the words: 
TERN FRONT" will echo as a 
psychological sensation, like a My- 
thos, stirring up the unconscious 

This sound-montage idea may be 
used also for any scenes in which 
the spectator is made to experience 
the physical and psychological sen- 
sation of the players. As, for in- 
stance, players heavily involved in 
battle-scenes (cannon thunder, ex- 
plosion of grenades, machine-guns, 
etc.), air-battles (roar of motors, 
machine-guns, tail-spinning planes, 

'All montage-ideas, special sound-effects, etc. of the above continuity arc fully protected by copyright of Werner K! ngler. 






■ - 

— - ■: .. - , - 


• v 




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~IO. 3 







EISENSTEIN Lewis Jacobs 



STATEMENT Edward Weston 









EDUARD TISSE need no introduction in Experimental 
Cinema. The list of their films to date is as follows: 

WORKERS, STRIKE! . . . Directed by Eisenstein, pho- 
tographed by Tisse. Not released in U. S. A. 


rected by Eisenstein, photographed by Tisse. Scenario 
by Eisenstein and Alexandrov. Alexandrov played the 
part of a Czarist captain on board the "Potemkin." 

rected by Eisenstein and Alexandrov. Photographed by 
Tisse. Scenario and montage by Eisenstein and Alex- 

rected by Eisenstein and Alexandrov. Photographed by 
Tisse. Scenario and montage by Eisenstein and Alex- 

ROMANCE SFNTIMENTALE ... A two-reel experi- 
ment in sound, made in Paris in the summer of 1930 
by Eisenstein, Alexandrov and Tisse. 

At present they are making a film in Mexico. (See the "HOL- 
LYWOOD BULLETIN" in this issue.) The June, 1930, issue of 
Experimental Cinema contained an interesting article on Eisen- 
stein's activities as a teacher in the Moscow Cinematographic 
University and also on his research into the Japanese "Kabuki" 
Theatre, on which The Cinematographic Principle and Japanese 
Culture is based. 

rSEVOLOD I PUDOVKIN also requires no introductj 
' The list of the films he has made i.i USSR is as folio?) 

THE CHESS PLAYER ... a two-reel experimenj 
analytical and cross-cutting montage, made five years V 
Not released in U. S. A. 

MECHANICS OF THE BRAIN ... a laboratory J 
made by Pudovkin in conjunction with Prof. Pavlo' 
the Psycho-Neurological Brain Institute in Leningi 
Studies in the activities of the "conditioned reflex." 
important film-document has had "educational" (but>l 
popular) release in this country. 

MOTHER ... The powerful film of the 190? stnkesU 
revolution based on Gorki's novel of the same n; 
Banned in the U. S. A. 

THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG . . . Produced.! 
Mezhrabpom for the tenth anniversary of the Bolsh 
Revolution. Released in U. S. A. very much abrid' 
The original was three hours long. 

STORM OVER ASIA . . . Pudovkin's masterpiece. 1 
ish imperialism in Asia and the Mongolian upri 
Partial release in U. S. A. 
He has joist completed a film, "LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL."'] 

Victor Turin is the Soviet director of "TURK-SIB." 

All Soviet stills courtesy Amkino Corporation. 

Experimental Cinema is edited by David Piatt, Lewis Jacobs.Seymour Stern. Contributing editors. Richard, 
P Attasheva, Bela Belazs, B. Braver-Mann, Samuel Brody, Chr.stel Gang, J. Lengyel, L. Moussinac, Edward Weston J 
Published at 302 East 59th St., New York City. Hollywood office, 1803 Vista del Mar, California. Subscription $2.00 
for 12 issues. $2.50 foreign. Single copies 25 cents. Vol. 1, No. 3. Copyrighted 1931. 


THIS, the third issue of EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA, makes its appearance after six months of 
ceaseless effort to raise funds for its publication. After half a year of financial and other 
difficulties, we are finally enabled to appear — with an intensification and a clarification of policy 
which will bring EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA into close relationship with the labor move- 
ment in America. 

The widespread interest that has manifested itself in our two earlier attempts to release the film for 
intelligent contact in America, encourages us to hope that with this issue, which makes clear the proletarian 
basis of our organ, EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA will succeed in establishing the ideological and organ- 
izational foundations of an American working-class cinema. This is particularly desirable at a time when 
the current Hollywood movie boasts a banality and a stupidity that seems to wax greater in proportion to 
the growth in the unsettlement and distress of American life. Two organizations, independent in operation 
but united in purpose, have already been formed for this task, although much remains to be done in each 
case to complete the basic direction and activity. These two groups are: THE WORKERS FILM AND 
PHOTO LEAGUE OF AMERICA and THE AMERICAN PROLET-KINO. These are the first two film- 
producing units of the American working-class. 

It is clear to the editors of EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA that Hollywood, while it is an almost inex- 
haustible source of stupefying "entertainment," is also at the same time the tool of American im- 
perialist political policy, which it serves so faithfully and so supinely through the medium of war films, 
anti-USSR films, news reels, etc. The United States with its appalling rate of illiteracy is fertile soil for 
so direct an instrument as the film. The talkie, by eliminating the printed caption, has overcome the last 
barrier necessary to make the cinema the most simple, the most powerful and the most popular political 
weapon in existence today. 

American imperialism has not been slow in recognizing this. It is wielding this dangerous sword in a 
most conscious way. There is a bill pending in Congress at the present time calling for the transformation 
of the movie industry into a public utility under federal control. The United States Government openly 
cooperates in the production of films glorifying the achievements of American marines in crushing latin- 
american uprisings. The film, "Flight," was an open attack on Sandino and the Nicaraguan struggle for 
national freedom from American imperialist domination. Such bluntly jingoistic, flag-waving films as 
"Wings," "The Mighty," "Tell It To The Marines," "The Patent Leather Kid," etc., etc., are only a be- 

Thus, the need to develop active film- machinery in the working-class to counteract this nefarious and 
growing activity, maliciously organized to prepare the American masses for martial suicide in the next 
war to end war — becomes doubly, immeasurably urgent. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA in future issues will expose in its pages the growth of practices such as 
those stated above, as well as the source of this capitalist propaganda in the film-industry, where a boycott 
is now in force on all films and news reels that reveal any evidences of the class struggle. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA will also endeavor in the future, as an inalienable part of the workers'film- 
movement, to cooperate in the production of films of a nature which will serve to give cohesion to the 
movement among the masses of movie-goers and which will also serve to counteract amongst these masses 
the stupefying opiate of the Hollywood product. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA, in conclusion will reveal to students of the film, through important 
articles, essays, photographs, stills, etc., the means and methods whereby films of the life of the Amer- 
ican workers will be adequately produced and presented for working-class audiences. 


Photo by 




IN America, the film, the one absolute and vital cultural 
force of our time, is completely imbedded in the ideas 
and doctrines of a reactionary class. The bourgeois cur- 
rents behind the puerilities of the film are dead to any 
promise of unfoldment within the lens. Only the ethos of 
the class-struggle contains any hope for a new transforma- 
tion of the film in America. 

On the other hand, the development of the cinema in 
Russia is organically related to the new social forces 
and economic implications of the era. These force: 
manifest themselves stirringly in the Soviet film. Directors 
there define the revolutionary working class reality and 

Functioning as one of the leaders of this new spirit is 
Eisenstein, director of "Strike", Potemkin", "Ten Days 
That Shook The World''', and "Old and New". Eisenstein 
in concentrated images expresses cinematically the social 
forces released by the proletarian revolution. Impelled by 
this upheaval, he has evolved autonomous laws of cinematic 
form sharply related to the needs of the Russian masses. 
The film has been transformed thru his "tonal" and "over- 
tonal" montage from a bourgeois opiate into an intense 
experience in which the spectator becomes a participant m 
a new and orphic conception. 

The creator of cinematic prose-rhythm, Eisenstein, em- 
ploys a style which enables him to pack and combine 
multiple perceptions, implications and meanings into 
each of his images; assigning to each their manifold con- 
tent, their angle, their tone, their precise action and move' 
ment, their rhythm and exact function so that there will 
be no discrepancy between his attitude and the projected 
film. Furthermore, he proportions each quality of image: 






its context, its tempo, its duration, its interval and positior 
its "overtone" and its plastic and social purpose in th 
cinematic plan: Montage — the plastic means toward pre 
found effects and the nucleus of every subsequent fill 

The images of Eisenstein are never "photographic" an 
never merely decorative, but because of their cadre an 
rhythmic action, their "collisions and conjunctions," the: 
transitions and conflicts — their essential Tightness, they ir 
feet and charge the mind and emotions of the spectatc 
and instil anticipatory reverberations, both organic an 
significant, for their response. 

It is from this condition that they function: the fin s 
image and its qualities prepares for the second, which meet ; 
the expectation roused by the rising modulation and in 
pulse, and the third is a challenge and collision, — a r< 
sponse differing from its cinematic associates in a visu: 
way, but yet conforming in an organic precision. A strui 
ture is created which introduces a number of impulses an 
counterpoints whose reconciliation is the activity of tr 
montage groups and their momentum: a structure whic 
piles up emotional effect by junction and multiplicatioi 
cumulation and conflict. Any effort to cut or substitu 
for an image in a sequence, or to speed or slow an imafl 
or sequence, or to juxtapose an arrangement, will indica 
how organic the whole is and at once injure the esthet 
value of the total. Here is a mighty style and a form th. 
evolves and corresponds with the complexity and precisic 
of the triumphant proletariat, the first to dominate tfl 
films' organic problem and the most able to satura; 
its structure with the program of the revolutionary soci 
substance. LEWIS JACOB 






T is a weird and wonderful feat to have written a pamph- 
let on something that in reality does not exist. 
There is not, for example, any such thing as a cinema 
without cinematography. 

And yet the author of the pamphlet in which this essay 
irst appeared 1 has contrived to write a hook about the 
inema of a country that has no cinematography. About 
he cinema of a country that has, in its culture, an infinite 
lumber of cinematographic traits strewn everywhere with 
he sole exception of — its cinema. 

This essay is on the cinematographic traits of Japanese 
ulture, lying outside the Japanese cinema, and is itself as 
part from the pamphlet as these traits are apart from the 
apancse cinema. 

A cinema is: so many companies, such and such turn- 
)vers of capital, such and such stars, such and such films. 

Cinematography is — first and foremost: montage. 

The Japanese cinema is excellently equipped with com- 
janies, actors, subjects. 

But the Japanese cinema is a complete stranger to mon- 

And yet the principle of montage can be identified as 
he basic element of Japanese representational culture. 


For writing is primarily representational. 

The hieroglyph. 

The naturalistic image of an object as portrayed by 
he skilful hand of Tzanki 2650 years before our era be- 
omes slightly formalised and, with its 539 fellows, forms 
ie first 'contingent 1 of hieroglyphs. 

Scratched out with an awl on bamboo, the plastic por- 
rait of an object still in every respect resembles its orig' 

But then, by the end of the Illrd Century, the brush is 

In the 1st Century after that happy event (A. D.) — ■ 

And, lastly, in the year 220 — Indian ink. 

A complete upheaval. A revolution in draughtsmanship. 
Vnd, after having suffered in the course of history no 
jj ewer than 14 different styles of handwriting, the hier- 
glyph crystallises in its present form. 

The means of production (brush and Indian ink) have 
etermined the form. 

The 14 reforms have had their way. As result. 

In the fierily cavorting hieroglyph "ma" (a horse) it 

: already impossible to recognise the features of the dear 

^ ttle horse, pathetically sagging in its hind-quarters, of the 

writing style of Tzanki, ,so well-known from ancient 

Jhinese sculpture. 











But let it rest in the Lord, this dear little horse, to- 
gether with the other 607 remaining "sianchin" ciphers — 
the first depictive category of hieroglyphs. 

The real interest begins with the second category of 
hieroglyps — the "choy-ee," i.e. 'copulative'. 

The point is that the copulation — perhaps we had bet- 
ter say, the combination — of two hieroglyphs of the sim- 
plest series is to be considered not as their sum but as their 
product, i.e., as a unit of another dimension, another pow- 
er: each, separately, corresponds to an object, to a fact, 
but their combination corresponds to a concept. By the 
combination of two 'depictables'' is achieved the represen- 
tation of something graphically undepictable. 

For example: the picture for water and the picture of 
an eye means — 'to weep'; 

The picture of an ear near a drawing of a door — 'to 

a dog and a mouth — 'to bark'; 

a mouth and a child — 'to clamour'; 

a mouth and a bird — 'to sing'; 

a knife and a heart — 'sorrow', and so forth. 

But this is — pure montage! 

Yes. Exactly what we are doing in the cinema, com- 
bining the as far as possible mono-significant, individually 
neutral (from the content point of view), depictive shots, 
into intelligible contexts and series. 

A means and method inevitable in any cinematographic 
representation. And, in its condensed and purified form 
the starting point for the ideological cinema. 

For a cinema seeking a maximum laconism for the visual 
representation of abstract concepts. 

As the pioneer among these paths we hail the method 
of the late lamented (long lamented) Tzanki. 

We have spoken of laconism. Laconism affords us a 
transition to a further point. Japan possesses the most 
laconic form of poetry. The "khai-kai" (which appeared 
at the beginning of the Xllth Century) and the "tanka". 

Both are almost hieroglyphs transposed into phraseology. 
Even so much so that half their value is appraised by the 
calligraphic quality of their draughtsmanship. Their meth- 
od of construction is completely analogous. 

This method, which in hieroglyphics provides a means of 
laconic determination of an abstract concept, gives rise 
when transposed into literary representation to an identi- 
cal laconism of pointed imagery. 

The method applied with concentration to the ascetic 
combination of ciphers strikes from their conflict a dry defi- 
niteness of the concepts determined. 

The self-same method expanded into the luxury of a 


group of already formed verbal combinations, swells into 
a splendour of image effect. 

The concept — a bare formula; its adornment, expansion 
by additional material, transforms it into an image — a fin- 
ished form. 

Exactly, though in reverse, as the primitive mode of 
thinking — image thinking, concentrating to a definite de- 
gree, became transformed to conceptual thinking. 

But let us turn to examples: 

The "khai-kai" is a concentrated impressionistic sketch: 

"In the hearth 
Two shining dots: 
A cat is sitting.''' 




"An ancient monastery, 

The cold moon. 

A wolf is howling. " 


"All is quiet in the field. 
A butterfly is flying. 
The butterfly has gone to sleep." 

The "tanka" is slightly longer (by a pair of lines). 
"A slowly walking 
Mountain pheasant; its tail 
Trails behind. 
Oh, night without end, 
Alone can I endure it!" 


From our point of view — these are montage phrases. A 
montage plan. 

The simple combination of two or three details of a 
material scries yielded a perfectly rounded-off representa- 
tion of another order — psychological. 

And, if the finely ground edges of the intellectual deter- 
mination of the concepts formed by combination of hiero- 
glyphs are here blurred, yet, in emotionalism, the concepts 
have blossomed forth immeasurably. 

Of Japanese writing it is uncertain. 

Whether its aspects as a character system (the determin- 
istic), or as an independent creation of graphics, (the de- 
pictive) predominates. . . . 

In any case, born of the duomonistic mating of the depict- 
ive by method and deterministic by purpose, the method 
of hieroglyph continued both its lines. (Continued — not 
historically — consecutively, but consecutively in principle, in 
the minds of those developing the method) . 

Not only did its deterministic lines continue into litera- 
ture, in the "tanka," as we have shown. 

But exactly the same method (in depictive aspect) oper- 
ates also in the most perfect examples of Japanese pictorial 

Sharaku. The creator of the finest engravings of the 
XVIIIth Century. Of an especially immortal gallery of por- 
traits of actors. The Daumier of Japan. The Daumier 
whom Balzac — himself the Bonaparte of literature — in his 
turn named "the Michael-Angelo of caricature." 

And, in spite of all this, almost unknown to us. 

The characteri; tic features of his work are noted by 
Julius Kurth. Discussing the question of the influence of 
sculpture on Sharaku, he draws a parallel between a por- 
trait of the actor Nakayama Tomisabro and an antique 

mask from the semi-religious No theatre — the mask Rozo 
(an old bronze). 

". . . there is the same cast of countenance in the mask, 
aho created in the days of Sharaku, and in the portrait oi 
Tomisabro. The features of the face and the distribution 
of the mass are very similar, though the mask represent! 
an old man, and the engraving a young woman (Tomisa 
bro in a female part). The likeness strikes the eye, and yet 
there is nothing in common between the two. But it is jus 
here that we discover the most characteristic trait of Shara 
ku: whereas the mask is carved from wood in almost cor 
rcct anatomical proportions, the proportions of the face 
in the engraving — are simply impossible. The distance 
between the eyes is so enormous as to be a mockery of all 
sound sense. The nose in comparison with the eyes is at 
least twice as long as any normal nose can afford to be, thj 
chin in relation to the mouth is out of all proportion; the 
eyebrows, the mouth, in general every detail considered 
in relation to the others, is entirely unthinkable. The sand 
may be observed in the faces of all the big heads of Shara- 
ku. The possibility that the great master did not realia 
the erroneous relationship of the sizes is quite out of thf 
Question. He rejected naturalism quite consciously, ani 
while every detail separately regarded is constructed oi 
the principle of the most concentrated naturalism, thei: 
combination in the general composition is subordinatec 
solely to the problem of content. He took as his norma 
proportions the quintessence of psychological expressive 
ness. . . " 
(Julius Kurth. "Sharaku", pp. 79,80,81. R. Piper, Munich) 

Is this not the same as does the hieroglyph, combinin 
the independent 'mouth' and the unrelated 'child' to forr 
the content expression 'clamour'? 

And is this not exactly what we of the cinema do i 
time, just as he in simultaneity, when we cause a moi 
strous disproportion of the elements of a normally flowi: 
event, dismembering it suddenly into 'gripping • hanc 
large', 'medium shots of struggle' and 'bulging eyes, fil 
ing screen' in making the 'montage' disintegration of a 
event into shots? In making an eye twice as large as 
man's full height? Bv the combination of these monstroi 
incongruities we gather up the disintegrated event on< 
more into one whole, but in our aspect. According to oi 
treatment in relation to the event. 

The disproportionate depiction of an event is organica 
ly characteristic in us from our very beginning. A. 
Luria, of the Psychological Institute in Moscow, has show 
me a drawing by a child on the theme 'lighting a stove 

Everything is depicted in passably accurate relationsh, 
and with great care. The firewood. The stove. The chir 
ney. But in the central space of the room is a huge re 
tangle streaked with zigzags. What are these zigzag 
They turn out to be — the matches. Taking into accou 
the crucial importance of these very matches for the pr 
cess depicted, the child allots them a scale according 
their due. 

The representation of objects in the actual (absoluti 
proportions proper to them is, of course, only a tribi 
to orthodox formal logic. 

A subordination to the conception of an unalterable < 
der of things. 

Both in painting and in sculpture there is a periodic a: t 

unceasing return to periods of establishment of absoli 


An exchange of the expressiveness of archaic disp: 



A Victim of Tsarism 

)ortion for the regular 'table of ranks and classes' of an 
rfficialdom-created harmony. 

Positivistic realism is in no way the correct form of per' 
:eption. Purely and simply — a function of a certain form 
3f social structure. 

Following a state monocracy, implanting a state mono- 


typic form of thought. 

An ideological uniformation, developing figuratively in 
the uniformed ranks of the regiments of Guards. 

Thus we have seen how the principle of the hieroglyph 
-'determination by depiction' split into two. 



First along the line of its purpose (the principle 'determi- 
nation') into the principles of the creation of literary 

Then along the line of its method of realisation of this 
purpose (the principle depiction,) into the striking methods 
of expressiveness of Sharaku. 2 

And, just as the two outspreading wings of a hyperbola 
meet, as we say, at infinity (though no one has 
visited so distant a region), so the principle of 
hieroglyphics, infinitely splitting into two (in accordance 
with the functionalism of ciphers), suddenly from this 
dualistic estrangement once more unites, in yet a fourth 
sphere — the theatre. 

Estranged for so long, once again — in the cradle period 
of the drama — they are present in parallel. In a curious 

The signification (determination) of the action is effect- 
ed by its narration by a man behind the staee — the repre- 
sentation (depiction) of the action is effected by a dumb 
marionette on the stage — the so-called Dzeiruri. 

Together with a specific manner of moving, this archa- 
ism migrated also into early Kabuki. It is maintained, as 
a part method, in classical repertory even to this day. 
(Where certain parts of the action are narrated from be- 
hind the stage while the actor acts in dumb-show). 

But this too is not the kernel. 

Mo:t important is the fact that into the technique of 
acting itself the hieroglyphic (montage) method has in- 
stilled itself in the most interesting ways. 

Ho^.'cver, before we discuss this finally, let us allow 
ourselves the luxury of a digression. Let us pause at the 
wayside halt of the question of the shot, in order to settle 
the question of shot-montage once and for all. 

A shot. A single piece of celluloid. 

A small rectangular frame with, somehow organised in- 
to it, a bit of an event. 

'Sticking to each other,' these shots form montage. Of 
course, when they stick in appropriate rhythm. 

Thus, roughly, teaches the old, old school of cinema- 

"Screw by screw, 

Brick by brick. . ." 

Kuleshov, for example, even writes with a brick, thus: 

". . . Should there be for expression any fractional idea, 
any particle of the action, any link of the whole dramatic 
chain, then that idea must be expressed, built-up out of 
shot-ciphers, as if out of bricks. . . 

(L. Kuleshov, "The Art of the Cinema." Published 
by Tea-Kino-Pechat, p. 100). 

"Screw by screw, 

Brick by brick. . ./'as the song goes. 3 

The shot — is an element of montage! Montage — is a 
'junction of elements'. 

A most pernicious method of analysis. 

One in which the understanding of a process as a whole 
(linkage, shot-montage) is derived merely from the extern- 
al characteristics of its flow (a piece is stuck to a piece). 

Thus it would be possible, for example,- to arrive at the 
well-known conclusion that tramcars exist to be laid across 

An entirely logical deduction, if one orientate oneself 
on the external characteristics of those functions they per- 
formed, for example, in Russia in the February days of 
'17. But the Materialist Conception of History interprets 
it otherwise. 

The worst of the matter is that an approach of this, 

kind does actually lie like an unclimbable tramcar across 
the possibilities of formal development. 

Such an approach predestines one not to dialectical de 
velopment, but only to gradual evolutionary 'perfecting' 
in so far as it gives no bite into the dialectical substance 
of events. 

In the last resort, such evolutionising leads either 
through refinement to decadence or, on the contrary, to 
simple withering away from stagnation of the blood. 

And, strange as it may seem, a melodious witness tc 
both these cases simultaneously is Kuleshov's last film— 
"The Gay Canary." 

The shot is in no wise an element of montage. „ 

The shot is a montage cell. 

Just as cells in their division form a phenomenon of an 
other order, the organism or embryo. So, on the other side 
of the dialectical leap from the shot, is montage. 

By what then is montage characterised, and consequent 
ly its cell — the shot. 

By collision. By conflict of two pieces standing in op 
position to each other. By conflict. By collision. 

In front of me lies a crumpled yellowed sheet of note' 

On it a mysterious note: 

"Linkage— P" and "Shock— E." 

This is the material trace of a hot engagement on the 
subject of montage between E — myself and P — Pudovkin 
(About a year ago.) 

This is the established order. At regular intervals he ; 
comes to me late at night and we row, behind closec 
doors, on subjects of principle. 

Here as before. Hailing from the Kuleshov school h( r 
heatedly defended the conception of the montage as a link 
age of pieces. Into a chain. Bricks. 

Bricks, by means of their rows narrating a concept. 

I confronted him with my point of view of montage a| 
collision. A viewpoint that from the collision of two givn 
en factors arises a concept. 

Linkage is, in my interpretation, only a possible special 

You remember what an infinite number of combination! 
is known in physics in the matter of the impact (collision J 






1! • 


C ! ' 



It I 

W) o 



of balls. 

According to whether they be resilient, or non-resilient 
or mixed. 

Amongst all these combinations there is one in whic} 
the impact is so weak that the collision degrades into thj 
even movement of both in one direction. 

This case would correspond to the point of view of Pi; 

Not long ago I had another talk with him. Today 
stands in agreement with my present point of view. 

True, during the interval he had taken the opportunit 
to acquaint himself with the substance of the lectures j 
had read during that period at the Central Cinematograp 


— -T-bus;-montag''' — is conflict. 

The basis of every art is always conflict. A peculi 
"image' transubstantiation of the dialectic principle. 

And the shot represents a montage cell. 

So, consequently, it aho must be considered from tr 
point of view of conflict. 

Intra-piece conflict — 

— potential montage, in the development of its intensit 
shattering its quadrilateral cage and exploding its confli 






into montage impulses between the montage pieces. 

And if montage must be compared with something, then 
a phalanx of montage-pieces, 'shots', should be compared to 
the series of explosions of an internal combu:tion engine, 
multiplying themselves into montage dynamics and there- 
by serving as 'impulses' to drive along a tearing motor-car 
or tractor. 

Intra-piece conflict. It may be of very various nature: 
may even be — a conflict in the action depicted itself. 
As in "What happened to Mary." In the course of a piece 
400 ft. long. Such conflict is clearly not subject to exami- 
nation in the light of questions of cinematographic form. 

But 'cinematographic' are: 

Conflict of graphic directions (either static lines or dy- 
namic lines). 

Conflict of scales. 

Conflict of spaces. 

Conflict of masses (spaces filled with various intensities 
f light.) 

Conflict of depths. 

Any of the:e and the following conflicts of such degree 
hat they wait only for one push of intensification to fly 
nto couples of antagonistic fragments. 

Close and long shots (C.U.'s, M.S.'s and L.S.'s, etc.) 

Graphically vari-produced pieces. Pieces solved, by 
olume with pieces solved by area. 

Dark pieces with light pieces, etc. 

And, lastly, there are such unexpected conflicts as: 

The conflict of an object with its normal dimension, and 

e conflict of an event with its normal temporal na- 


This may sound extraordinary but both these cases are 

The first — an optical distortion of the lens, the second — 
peeding-up or slow-motion. 

The assembling of all properties of cinematography into 
e le formula of conflict, the grouping of all cinematograph' 

characteristics into a dialectical series under one single 

:ad — is no empty rhetorical diversion. 

We thus seek a unified systematization of the method of 

nematographic expressiveness that shall hold good for all 
: " s elements. 

The assembling of them to a series of common interpre- 

tion will iolve the problem as a whole. 

Experience in the various separate departments of the 

riema varies in measure beyond compare. 

Whereas we know a great deal about montage, in the 

Leory of the shot we are still bubbling about between the 

ayal Academy, the French Impressionists, and pure geo- 

;trisations that begin to set one's teeth on edge. 

The regarding of the frame, however, as a particular, 

:llular' case of montage — the smashing of the dualism 

iot-montage', makes possible the direct application of 
in ontage experience to the question of the theory of the 


The same with the question of lighting. The concep- 

>n of this as a collision between a current of light and an 

stack, like the impact of a gush of water from a fire- 

se striking an object, or of the wind Luffeting against 

person, muct result in a usage of it comprehensible en- 

;ly different from that afforded by playing around with 

luzes' and 'spots'. 

The one available such interpretative principle is the 

nciple of conflict: 

The principle of optical counterpoint. 
nd, let us not now forget ""hat shortly we shall have 

solve another and less simple counterpoint, namely, the 

conflict of auditory and visual impulses in the sound cinema. 



At the moment, however, let us return to one of the 
mo.t interesting of optical conflicts: 

The conflict between the limits of the frame and the 
object shot. 

The shooting-angle as the materialisation of conflict 
between the organising logic of the director, and the inert 
logic of the object, in collision, giving the dialectic of cin- 

In this respect we are still impressionistic and devoid of 
principle to a point of sickness. 

But, in spite of this fact, a sharp degree of principle is 
proper to the technique of this also. 

The dry quadrilateral, plunging into the haphazard of 
natural diffuseness. . . . 

And once more we are back in Japan! 

For, thus — the cinematographic is one of the methods of 
drawing instruction used in Japanese schools. 

What is our method of drawing instruction? 

We take an ordinary four-cornered piece of white 
paper. . . . 

And we cram onto it, in most cases even without using 
the corners (the edges are usually grease-stained with long 
sweating over it), some tedious caryatid, some vain Corin- 
thian capital, or a plaster Dante (not the juggler at the 
Moscow Ermitage, but the other one — Aligheri, the com- 
edy writer.) 

The Japanese do the opposite. 

Here's a branch of cherry-tree, or a landscape with a 
sailing boat. 

And the pupil extracts from its whole, by means of a 
square, or circle, or a rectangle, a composition unit. 

He takes a frame! 

And just by these two ways of teaching drawing are 
characterised the two basic tendencies struggling in the 
cinema of today. 

The one — the expiring method of artificial spatial or- 
ganisation of the event in front of the lens. 

From the 'direction' of a sequence, to the erection of 
a Tower of Babel in the literal sense, in front of the lens. 

And the other — a 'pieking-out' by the camera, organisa- 
tion by its means. The hewing of a piece of actuality by 
means of the lens. 

However, now, at the present moment, when the cen- 
tre of attraction is beginning, in the ideological cinema, fin- 
ally to be transferred from the material of the cinema as 
such into 'deductions and conclusions' formed by the or- 
der of its approximation, both schools lose the importance 
of their differences and can quietly blend into a synthesis. 

Some pages back we lost, like a golosh in a tramcar, 
the question of the theatre. 

Let us turn back to the question of methods of montage 
in the Japanese theatre. 

In particular, in acting. 

The first and most striking example, of course, is the 
purely cinematographic method — 'untransitional acting'. 

Alongside with mimic-transitions carried to the limit of 
refinement, the Japanese actor uses the exactly reverse 

At some moment or other of the acting he interrupts it. 

The 'Black Ones' 4 obligingly conceal him from the spec- 
tator. And lo — he is resurrected in a new make-up. A new 
wig. Characterising another stage (degree) of his emo- 
tional state. 

Thus, for example, in the play "Narukami" is solved 
the transition of Sadandzi from drunkenness to madness. 



By a mechanical cut to it. And a change in his collec- 
tion (armoury) of coloured streaks. On his face, empha- 
sizing those of them whose lot it is to fulfill a task of high- 
er intensity than that allotted to those used in the first 

This method is organic to the film. The forced introduc- 
tion into the film, by the European acting tradition, of 
pieces of 'emotional transitions' is yet another influence 
forcing the cinema to mark time. Whereas the method of 
'cut' acting makes possible the construction of entirely new 
methods. The supplantation of one changing actor-face 
by a scale of vari-mooded type-faces always affords a much 
more acutely expressive result than that enabled by the 
surface, too receptive and devoid of organic resistance, 
of the face of a professional actor. 

The banishing of the intervals between the polar stages 
of expression of face in sharp contrast has been used by 
me in our new village picture. By this means is achieved 
a greater sharpness in the 'play of doubt' around the sep- 
arator. Will the milk thicken or no? Trickery? Wealth? 
Here the psychological process of the play of motifs — 
faith and doubt — is disintegrated into the two extreme po- 
sitions of joy (confidence) and gloom (disillusionment). 
Moreover there is a sharp emphasizing of this by light (in 

head. A disintegration into shots. With the shortening 
of the separate successive constituents at the approach to- 
wards the . . . tragic end — death. 

By shaking himself free from the yoke of simple na- 
turalism, the actor is enabled by this method entirely to 
grip the spectator by 'rhythms', thus rendering the stage, 
which in its general composition is constructed on the most 
consecutive and detailed naturalism (flesh and blood, etc.), 
not only apprehensible but affective. 

Since we now no longer make a distinction in princi- 
ple between questions of intra-shot and montage, we may 
here cite a third example: 

The Japanese makes use in his work of a slow tempo oJ 
a degree of slowness unknown to our stage. The famou; 
scene of harakin in "The Forty-seven Ronin". Such a de 
gree of slowing down of movement is absent from ou 
stage. Whereas, in the previous example, we dealt wit! 
disintegration of the linkage of movement, here we hav< 
disintegration of the process of movement. Slow-motion 
I know of only one example of a thorough application o 
this same method, as technically employable in the cine 
ma, for a compositionally thought-out end. Usually it i 
used either for a depiction, as 'The Submarine Kingdoir 
("The Thief of Bagdad"), or for a dream ("Zvenigora") 


U I 

I ft 

I a K< 



no wise conforming to actual light conditions). This leads 
to a considerable strengthening of the intensity. 

Another remarkable characteristic of Kabuki is the 
principle of 'disintegrated' acting. Thus, Siozoi, the fe- 
male part lead of the "Kabuki" company that played in 
Moscow, in depicting a dying girl in "The Sculptor of 
Masks", performed his part in pieces of acting entirely de- 
tached from one another. 

Acting with only the right arm. Acting with one leg. 
Acting with the neck and head only. The whole process 
of the general death agony was disintegrated into the solo 
playing through of each 'part' separately from the others: 
the parts of the leg, the parts of the arms, the part of the 


Or, more often still, it is just formal spillikens and pi 
poseless camera hooliganism ("The Man with the Mc 
Camera"). The instance I have in mind is Epstein's " 
Fall of the House of Usher". Normally acted emotii 
taken with a speeded-up camera gave an unsual emoticj 
pressure by their slowness on the screen (judging from 
press reports). If it be borne in mind that the effeel 
the acting of an actor on the public is based on its imitat 
by the spectator, it will be easy to relate the two ex 
pies to one and the same causual explanation. The inte 
ty of the reception increases because the imitative pro 
goes more easily along a disintegrated motion . . . 
Training in how to handle a rifle was hammered 





:ven the stiffest automata among 'raw' recruits 'along dis- 
ntegration'. . . 

The most interesting association of the Japanese thea- 
re, however, is, after all, with the sound cinema, which 
:an and must learn what is basic for it from the Japanese — 
he bringing of both visual and auditory impressions to 
me common physiological denominator. But I consecrated 
i whole article in the "Zhizna Iskusstva" (1928, No. 34). 5 
to this point, and I shall not return to it here. 

So, it has been possible cursorily to establish the permea- 
tion of the mo.t various branches of Japanese culture by the 
pure element and basic nerve of cinematography — montage. 

And only the Japanese cinema falls into the same error 
is the left-drifting 1 "Kabuki". 

Instead of learning how to extract the principles and 
technique of their remarkable acting from out of the tra- 
ditional feudal forms of what they act, the progressive 
heatrical leaders of Japan fling themselves into adaptation 
jf the spongy shape lessness of our own academic p^ycho- 
ogical naturalistic Art Theatre. The results are tearful 



and sad. In the realm of the cinema Japan similarly pur- 
sues imitations of the most revolting examples of commer- 
cial American and Middle-European market junk. 

To understand and apply her cultural peculiarities to the 
cinema, this is 1 the task of Japan. 

Colleagues of Japan! Are you really going to leave it 
to us? 

1. This essay was first published as an epilogue to N. Kauf- 
man's pamphlet "The Japanese Cinema" (Tea-Kino-Pechat. The 
Theatre and Film Press, Moscow, 1929) and entitled "Outside the 
Shot." The present text is translated by Ivor Montagu and S. S. 
Nalbanov and revised by the author. 

2. It has been lctt to Joyce to develop in literature the depictive 
line of the Japanese hieroglyph. Every word of Kurth's analysis of 
Sharaku may be applied, neatly and easily, to Joyce. — S. M. E. 

3. The quotation is from "Kerpitchiki," a Russian popular 
Ming. — I. M. 

4. The Black Ones in Kabuki are persons attired completely in 
black and thus relatively invisible. Besides functioning as described, 
they move furniture and carry out all manner of changes. — I. M. 

5. Republished in a French translation in "Monde," December, 
1928.— S. M. E. 

The Problem of the New Film Language 


A CHARACTERISTIC feature of the filmic language 
of the majority of our films is that it is based on the 
intellectual sense of the composition. By that we mean that 
not only the visual appearance on the screen as such, but 
also the idea behind it, affects the spectator. 

A few film-people have expressed this fact in paradoxi- 
cal form, as follows: The essence of the film lies not in the 
images, in the scenes, but between the scenes. Eisenstein 
terms this the "fourth dimension" of the film. He means 
that one does not just see the art-work, but feels-and-thinks 
it, — that is, "senses" it. This principle is undoubtedly ap- 
plicable to the film that is expressed in poetic film-terms. 

Every film-work is actually supposed to consist of a ser- 
ies of thought-impulses, and the action to serve only as 
opportunity for the visualization of these thoughts. 

In contrast to the so-called prosaic film with its dynamic 
of action, stands poetic film-language with its dynamic of 
thought. Instead of: "I see that he walks," it will become: 
"I feel, what the artist thinks." 

The thought is realized through the action and com- 
prehended in its pure form, without being obscured by 
the events. 

The thought thus becomes the basic element of the 
montage. The visual unity in only an equivalent of the 
thought. The basis is therefore not the composition of 
the action, but the composition of the thought. The most 
effective means for the realization of such a composition 
is the "association montage." The development and perfec- 
tion of this method will make it possible to construct art- 
works along manifold thematic lines of highly varied ma- 
terial. To master this method completely, means to have 
attained the ideal of art-creation, whose task it is, as the 
old Dutch philosopher Hemsterguy put it, "to express the 
greatest number of ideas in the shortest time." 

There is no doubt that the time-limitations of the film 
("the shortest time") and our attempt, to give "the great- 
est number of ideas," are in accord with this teaching of 
the old Hollander. The nature of the film offers the pos- 

sibility to solve this difficulty and for the other arts insolu- 
ble, task. 

The two elements of this new film-language, association 
and brevity, justify the designation of this method as the 
Method of '"Associative Laconism." 

This conditioned expression (practically speaking, all 
expressions of art-theory are conditioned) offers the occa- 
sion to analyze the elements of filmic language from a par- 
ticularly definite point of view. 

Associative laconism affords, in my opinion, the possi- 
bility to establish in the work the line of development of 
the theme. This method makes it possible to control time 
and space more effectively through a successful composi- 
tion of the abstract meaning; it facilitates the unification 
of highly varied types of visual material into a single, def- 
inite thought subordinated to the whole. It reduces the 
time of the action to a minimum. Association ultimately 
corresponds completely to the principle of the intellectual 
film, in which the subject-matter is subordinate to the 
intellectual reflex. If one takes into further consideratior. 
that poetic language, according to its own peculiar na 
ture, is not composed of isolated grand thoughts, but fre 
quently consists in intimations and allusions to definite 
ideas, then it becomes very clear that just this associative 
laconism constitutes its technically adequate means of ex- 

Our films are therefore not constructed on the develop- 
ment of the external action, and do not depend on the ex- 
ternal dynamic, but are based on the continuation of an in- 
tellectual thought-line. 

The explanation for this lies in the circumstance that 
for us it is not possible to have a previously established 

The final formation of our films occurs solely in the 
montage, in the cutting. 

During the cutting, much — very much — is changed, 
this change often even depending on the substitution of 
some title for a very important picture. In fact, in such 



films, the placement of the titles is as important as that of 
the images. 

It is no accident that mo:t of our best directors (Eisen- 
stein, Dovzhenko, etc.) write their own manuscripts. The 
language of their manuscripts originates out of their ex- 
tensive relationship, as directors, to the material and out of 
their extensive knowledge of the film-camera. Even in the 
films of Pudovkin the so-called "poetic spots" are incor- 
porated by the director himself. It is ako no accident that 
these directors have found fewer followers than the direc- 
tors of the old theatrical "school," of which the outstand- 
ing representatives in Soviet Russia are Protozanov, Ozep 
and Room. 

There is no doubt, however, that the transformation of 
the theme is likewise accompanied by a revision of the 
formal-styliitic disposition. 

We must not only change the thematic contents of our 
works, but we must also seek new means of expression. Such 
a necessity impels us to constant change and experimenta- 
tion; it permits of no stand-still, and it prevents us from 
creating still further art-works according to the old banal 

Our main task was to show the development of our 
country from a complete technical backwardness and lack 
of culture to our present-day colossal advancement, at the 
threshold of which we now stand. Our country is today 
seized with the enthusiasm of construction. The building 
of the Turkestan-Siberian Railroad is only one manifesta- 
tion of this gigantic labor. 

Not a single art-work that has its origin in the Soviet 
Union today is the metaphysical brain-child of an artist; 
but all art-works are based on material of actual occur- 
rence, which forms the best foundation for any kind of crea- 
tive work. Our central theme is the manifestation of so- 
cialism, the daily life of our Union. 

All the imagination of our artists, all their inventive gen- 
ius, can be applied to the wealth of material of our own 
lives. We need not ponder over subject-matter, for it can 
be found in every nook and corner of our Union, and we 
can therefore concentrate our full creative strength on the 
search for new and better means of expression. But these 
new methods for the construction of our film-works we 
seek only in order to reflect that which happens to us in 
reality, in as powerful and vital a way as possible. 

We realize that in our work we are still a long way 
from perfection — more, that we stand just at the beginning 
of these new paths of the Soviet film. 

We are technically still very weak and must daily seeM 
and invent new art-means. Our cinema, artistically as well 
as technically, is still in its childhood days. Thus, we have 
just recently started to familiarize ourselves with the tech 
nique of the sound-film; but we know, we are convinced! 
that when we have once learned to master these new meth 
ods, we shall be able to create art-works which will deepl> 
move the proletarian spectators of the entire world. 

(Translated from the German by Christel Gang) 

The development of art has at all times been closely r& 
lated to the ideas and forms of life of the cla.s ruling at a 
given time. In all former epochs which, with but few eJ 
ceptions, made art the monopoly of the possessing and rul- 
ing class, those forms of art were encouraged which served 
to satisfy the higher, more refined individual requirements 
of the privileged. The satisfaction of the artistic needs o: 
the masses was regarded as a subsidiary matter. Art was 
doled out to them in bad mass reproductions. 

Things are different in the Soviet Union. There the 
masses are considered first. Consequently those arts which 
in themselves, can benefit the masses, receive special en 
couragement. In the present stage of development these 
are the cinema and the wireless. They have long been reo 
ognized as extremely effective means for influencing the 
masses and giving them an artistic education— KURELLA 
— The Five- Year-Plan and The Cultural Revolution. 


The first workers film-producing organization 
in America 




COMMUNICATE with the Prolet-Kino. 

ADDRESS: Lewis Jacobs, 302 East 59th Street, 
N. Y. C, N. Y. or Seymour Stern, 
1803 Vista del Mar, Hollywood, Cal. 

Studio of Sovkino in Construction -- Moscow 




r DWARD WESTON is an example of how America ignores 
*-* first rate artists. It is more than fifteen years since Weston pro- 
duced the first of his enormous volume of photographs, the majority 
of which have carried his name and the technique associated with his 
method, far around the world. But in the United States he is 
still known to an extremely limited number of people, chiefly, we 
believe, because the fundamental idea behind his conceptions and 
the unsweetened vitality of his results are too bold, and creatively 
too profound, for the type of American "mind" that "likes pho- 
1 tography." Weston's photography is not what the average Holly- 
wood movie-photographer would rate as "good": the quality of 

Ins work is a permanent message to future proletarian technicians, 
both of the still and of the film camera, against the bourgeois 
"technique" of American photography that is even today, in spite 
of Soviet camera'accomplishments, a befuddled standard to a great 
part of the world. Here, in this man's work, the product of an 
honest eye, is no unhealthy artificialism of design, no back-lighting 
or cross-lighting, a complete absence of conventional technical 
sentimentalism, etc. . . 

Edward Weston's work represents the high-point of photography 
in the United States — its healthiest and most vital still-camera ac- 




^— ^^0^ ^gf — today — the tempo of life accelerated — with airplane and wireless as speed symbols — 
I %J iBL ] I with senses quickened — minds cross- fertilized by intercommunication and teeming with 
"^^ W *^F ^^ fresh impulse. 

Today — photography — with capacity to meet new demands, ready to record instantaneously — shutter 
co-ordinating with the vision of interest impulse — one's intuitive recognition of life, to record if desiired, 
a thousand impressions in a thousand seconds, to stop a bullet's flight, or to slowly, surely, decisively expose 
for the very essence of the thing before the lens. 

Recording the objective, the physical facts of things, through photography, does not preclude the com- 
munication in the finished work, of the primal, subjective motive. AN ABSTRACT IDEA CAN BE 
CONVEYED THROUGH EXACT REPRODUCTION: photography can be used as a means. 

Authentic photography in no way imitates nor supplants paintings: but has its own approach and tech- 
nical tradition. Photography must be, — Photographic. Only then has it intrinsic value, only then can its 
unique qualities be isolated, become important. Within bounds the medium is adequate, fresh, vital: with- 
out, it is imitative and ridiculous! 

This is the approach: one must prevision and feel, BEFORE EXPOSURE, the finished print — complete 
in all its values, in every detail — when focusing upon the camera ground-glass. Then the shutter's release 
times for all time this image, this conception, never to be changed by after-thought, by subsequent mani- 
pulation. The creative force is released coincident with the shutter's release. There is no substitute for 
amazement felt, significance realized, at the TIME of EXPOSURE. 

Developing and printing become but a careful carrying on of the original conception, so that the first 
print from a negative should be as fine as it will yield. 

Life is a coherent whole: rocks, clouds, trees, sh ells, torsos, smokestacks, peppers are interrelated, inter- 
dependent parts of the whole. Rhythms from one, be come symbols of all. The creative force in man feels 
and records these rhythms, these forms, with the medium most suitable to him — the individuual — sensing 
the cause, the life within, the quintessence revealed directly without the subterfuge of impressionism, be- 
yond the range of human consciousness, apart from the psychologically tangible. 

Not the mys'tery of fog nor the vagueness from smoked glasses, but the greater wonder of revealment, 
— seeing more clearly than the eyes see, so that a tree becomes more than an obvious tree. 

Not fanciful interpretation, — the noting of super ficial phase or transitory mood: but direct presentation 


These photographs, — excepting portraits — are contact prints from direct 8x10 negatives, made with a rectilinear lens 
costing #5.00, — this mentioned because of previous remarks and questions. The porlraits are enlarged from 3%x4^4 
Graflex negatives, the camera usually held in hands. Edward Weston, Carmel, Cal. 

EDWARD WESTON is an internationally known 
photographer who lives and carries on his main 
work in Carmel, California. After several years 
spent in Mexico, where he contacted his contemporaries 
in the field of painting, Orozco and Diego Rivera, Wes- 
ton returned to the United States and produced a mass 
of photographs which have had revolutionary conse- 
quences in expanding the powers and developing the 
dynamic of the still-camera. Reproductions of four of 
his prints appear in the present issue. Weston's most 
noted work is in his groups of peppers, tree-roots and 
early industrial subjects. 


- i 





IN response to a number of inquiries and requests, Ex- 
perimental Cinema informs its readers that the Christel 
Gang translation of Pudovkin's book, Film Direction and 
Film Manuscript, the first half of which was published in 
the February and June, 1930, issues respectively, is the 
first and only translation of this work published in the 
United States. An English translation has been published 
in Great Britain, but this is not available on the American 
market. With this number, however, Experimental Cinema 
discontinues the serialization of Christel Gang's translation 
and prints instead a recent manuscript by Pudovkin deal- 
ing with present developments in his methodology. As Pu- 
dovkin himself makes clear in the course of this essay, the 
ideas formulated in his book, which was first published in 
the U.S.S.R. four years ago, are now obsolete when con- 
sidered in relation to the rapid growth of Soviet film- 
technique. Its appearance was "unfortunate," to use Pudov- 
kin's own word, in view of the radical advances and 
changes that Pudovkin himself has made in his entire 
method. There seems, therefore, to the editors of Experi- 
mental Cinema, no valid reason for continuing this out- 
moded work at the present stage of the evolution of the 
Soviet cinema. 


READING for the first time a scenario by Alexander 
Rjechevsky, I experienced a sensation until then 
unknown to me. 

While reading it, the scenario created the same emotion 
in me as a literary work. I say unknown sensation be- 
cause, for reasons unexplained, the authors of scenarios al- 
ways use, to express themselves, a style characterized by its 
platitude and banality. All scenarists seem to forget that 
the word is their only means means of expression; it is by 
means of the word that they must convey to the direc- 
tor the complex whole of their ideas and sensations which, 
on the other hand, the screen must convey to the spec- 
tator. The co-operation of the scenarist and director is 
very important. Until now this was partially realized by 
meetings, discussions, conversations, but as a rule, the au- 
thor of a scenario, having sold his work to a firm, was from 
then on completely out of touch with actual production 
and grew indignant against the director who often distort- 
ed his work. The lack of coincidence of scenario and film 
can often be ascribed to the incompetence of a director, but 
is in most cases due to reciprocal misunderstanding. The 
erroneous propaganda which called for the writing of the 
scenario as a simple series of frames, has given unsatisfact- 
ory results. Four years ago I, unfortunately, took part in 
this campaign of "the idea thru the picture". It must 
be said that then scenarists were exclusively preoccupied 
with montage. The content of the film, its idea, its in- 
tentions, were all united in the theme. The director limit- 
ed himself to taking care of the simplest descriptive mon- 
tages: a departing train, a well mounted fire, were consid- 
ered fair results. 

Times have changed. The cinema has progressed. The 
cinema-creators of today know how to impart to an aud- 
ience, by a series of montage, very complicated abstract 
notions. The domain of the motion picture is broadening 
Its possibilities are increasing: that which some time age 
seemed impossible of expression thru the film is today a 
tangible and clear reality wherefrom we draw our 
productions. It would be astonishing, if, in view of sucr 
changes, the scenario writers, so closely linked with the 
realization of the film, were not to transform their tech- 
nique. Many directors, however, write their own scenar 
ios. They jot them down on montage sheets, simple scheme 
or technical plan of work for shooting. In such case; 
everything must be read between the lines. 

1. — Paul's face. 

2.— Fist. 

3. — Ivan's face. 

4. — Fist pounding table. 

5. — Table collapses. 

6. — Ivan's face, etc. 

What about Ivan's face, what is this pounding fist, wha 
happens to Ivan? Nothing is indicated . . . Everything 
is clear only to the director, who, briefly, telegraphically 
determines the nature-of the frames discovered and sho 
by himself . . . This telegraphic style has unfortunately 
been adopted by the authors of scenarios. To think onh 
in pictures, — to do the work of the director, in othei 
words, often leads the scenarist into blind alleys. He for 
gets that in his work, contrary to the purpose of the mon 
tage sheets, everything must be contained in the lines 
The word is his instrument. He must master it to per 
fection; otherwise it is inevitable that his work be inexac 
ly and superficially felt by the director. 


Consequence: the interpretations of the theme are var 

iable and the film loses all its value. In Rjechevsky, how, l 
ever, we have an interesting example of scenarios pre 
foundly elaborated in their content. For instance: 

I ver 

■veil th 

Extract from "The 26 Communists of Baku:" 

— The front. 

— Against the spectator, completely against hirr ■:. 
the inseparable wall of maddened machine-gun; 

— Covered with blood a soldier of the red arm 
meditates at length; at last he finds . . . 

—He has something to say to the whites . . . 

—He writes it down on paper. Then he plunge 
back into his long meditations; several time 
a vague motion with his hand to better deter 
mine the specific weight of the first word wit 
which he wishes to begin his speech. Myste: 
iously, he smiles, motions hopelessly with h 
hand and writes at last in best penmanshij 
large upon the paper. . . 

— Bastards! 


r * 

















— The whites fall, one after another, in the ranks; 
thru the holes in their chutes, could be seen 
before one's self a stretch where the shells of 
the Reds were bursting; a tank, leaning on its 
side, in distress, called for help like a sema- 

— In close-up, the Red trenches; a commander 
standing on the parapet howls something. 

— Fear, dread . . . Over the parapet appear first 
the bayonets; then, congealed, heads, only the 
faces of Red soldiers, somber and lifeless that 
stare, straight ahead of them. 

—Knocking like mad, the Red machine-guns pre- 
pare the attack; in close-up, an agonizing man 
lies, breathing with difficulty. Our soldier looks 
at him; he thinks, very moved; tears in his eyes, 
he continues his message to the whiter . . . 

—My land swells, and my heart, too, swells. . . 

— In close-up, Red trenches and the Red chief 
howling on the parapet. 

— Fear, dread . . . Over the parapet appear first the 
bayonets; then, congealed, heads, only the 
faces of Red soldiers, somber and lifeless, which 
stare straight ahead of them. 

— Completely against the frightful wall where 
the Red soldiers are, our soldier who has just 
been wounded pins his message to the whites 
on a bayonet, and on the paper is written . . . 

— At any rate, you shall be massacred. The Rev- 
olution wants to make victims of you . . . 

— Farewell upon this good word! 

— And in the smoke of the White's trench, faces 
stare; upon these faces fear appears when they 
see, black and red in the smoke, the line of Reds 
advancing to attack. . . 

— At the edge of a naked precipice, under heavy 
clouds, over endless water, — a great river or 
perhaps blue sea — great shells bursting succes- 
sively . . . 

— A Russian izba was afire . . . 

I concede that in this case the subtitles are of pnmor- 
v lial importance. But we have in this scenario an example 
if verbal expression which attains very great intensity, 
here is no possible wavering; the director may do less 
1 veil than the scenario, but he will not be able to do some- 
hing absolutely "different". The words express too exact 
picture: the director will have no occasion to become tied 
i P . 

The Soviet cinema as a whole attained its forms by 
earching for new themes which until then seemed mac 
essible and were not accepted by the "representatives of 
rt." Rjchevsky has the virtue, his aims being limited, to 
ai >ose problems bravely before the director; he determines 
he emotional content and the sense of the film without 
etermining the visual contours. At times he even doc 
10 more than to give the impulse; a very determined form 
vould indeed only confuse the director by imposing upon 
dm fixed visual contours instead of indicating sensations 
o be expressed, the sense of the work. 


Extracts from a Scenario 

— Beginning. 

— A naked and majestic precipice. Upon this 
precipice, some pine or other of remarkable 
beauty. Nearby, (you know how they are) a 
Russian izba. Near the izba, over the precipice, 

the clouds are heavy, the wind tears, and here 
is the endless water, a great river or the blue 
s>ea, perhaps; here a man stands, congealed. 

— The wind, the wind, the wind that blows across 
God's whole world . . . 

— Here: we see, on this- same precipice, near this 
same izba, under these heavy clouds, while the 
wind howls over the endless water, blue sea or 
great river, we see a man who 

— Slowly 

— with anguish 

— frenzied 

— his hands cupped around his mouth that his 
voice may carry 

— a man who weeps, hiccoughs and speaks . . . 

— he shouts, the man, desperately 

— he howls . . . 

— from an edge of the precipice 

— above the immense water 

— to the other shore 

— and here, in close-up, horsemen rush forward. . . 

— dat,h forth . . . 

— then ride away . . . 

— And to them the man slowly spoke, wept . . . 

— And screamed 

— As tho questioning them 

"The father is dying! He asks me what you 
have invented, you men? Can we foresee a new 
life? Or, like the father, will I too be afraid 
to live?" 

— The water . . . 

— On the other distant shore 

— The horsemen stop suddenly; 

— and an open-hearted guy 

— who answers 

— over the vast water 

— toward the precipice, toward the man who ques- 
tions; he howls, enthused and indignant . . . 

— "You'll remain here!" 

— Enthusiastic, indignant, our partisan, open- 
hearted fellow, howls . . . 

"It will be hard during the first hundred and 
twenty years . . . 

— but after that, it will be easy!" 

— then the man of the precipice goes towards the 

— disappears. 

— here he is in the izba, near the father, an ema- 
ciated, bony muzhik, agonizing. 

— the son speaks, he speaks at length about some- 
thing, he relates something to his dying father 
. . . then he is silent. 

— the old muzhik who is agonizing turns on his 
side. Stubborn, whimsical, — he says with sim- 

— I will not die today! 

Here the power of the words does not serve to indicate 
how, where and what is to be photographed; the word 
serves only to convey the emotion which will be felt by 
the spectator before the future montage. Rjechevsky who 
possesses the Verb, does not abandon his director to the 
free play and hazard of the camera's findings. What he says 
in the scenario presides over the work of the director. All 
the technical work of the director, all the ingenuity of the 
man who handles camera, film and scissors, must be di- 
rected towards preserving the general tendency and inte- 



erality of the work, beginning with the very moment the 
latter passes from the word into purely cinematic compo- 

Rjechevsky does not concern himself with foreshorten- 
ings, lengths, close-ups, or background; and, nevertheless, 
in reading, one feels the rhythm of the film. Forms, fore- 
shortenings, lights, character and movements of the actors, 
— all this, without direct indication, is contained in the 
verbal composition. Moreover Rjechevsky demands m- 
genunity. The indication: "Perhaps blue sea"': seems at 
first negative. (What, in fine, river or sea?); in reality 
there is herein contained a precise directive for research 
and for shooting. The breadth, the austerity and majesty 
of the river which is "perhaps a blue sea" cannot be trans- 
lated by a simple shot of the Volga, from a bridge. A 
whole montage composition is here given, which includes 
change of light, change of camera-position, and perhaps 
even the incorporation of other material having no re- 
lation to water. 

Rjechevsky, therefore, works truly in the spirit of our 
cinema: he possesses at the same time the sense of the word 
and the infallible scent of visual expression, common gift 
of film creators and those who understand the laws of 
cinegraphic composition. 

Here, in the scenario of the "26 Communists of Baku", 
is the siege of the city by the Turks. The weakened Red 
soldiers and the population struggle madly to hold the city. 
The author of the scenario in a remarkable episode, shows 
the desperate struggle in striking fashion. A fire. The fire- 
men and those helping them, work frantically. Above the 
burning house and in the street, shells are bursting, rip- 
ping open the fire hoses and killing and wounding the 
firemen; the shells howl, but the people stubbornly ex- 
tinguish' the conflagration. Thus Rjechevsky does not 
show us the trenches, the two opposing sides; he does not 
limit himself to showing, as is the custom, the bursting 
shell and its ravages. He sets down, point blank, a sharp 
picture; the strained struggle of the people, the same as 
those who are outside the city in the trenches, and he 
rains down the enemies' shells upon them. The water 
sprouting out of the punctured hoses grips the mind like 
the blood that would flow from the torn veins of a sol- 
dier. The people ever again dashing amid the flames to 
save the victims is a spectacle of a power sharper and more 
certain than any desperate attack imaginable. 

The composition of the scenarist is interesting. In his 
latest works: The Sixteenth, It is Said in the Mountains 
and The 26, there is no composition of the theme in the 
ordinary sense of the word. His films do not aim to chron- 
ologically describe the fate of the characters. The scenario 
is divided into a series of episodic pictures connected only 
by the march of the central idea rather than by the dram- 
atic development of situations. 

With Rjechevsky, very often, a character appears only 
to provoke the spectators and then to disappear forever. 
At times, he is incorporated in the construction of an epi- 
sode to underline emotion. 

In The 26 the Soviet votes for the intervention of the 
British. The bloody head of a Red soldier is seen rising 
in the smoke of a crackling machine-gun and shouting to 
his dying comrade: 
— We are being betrayed somewhere, Petka! 
In "Life is Beautiful" there is a story and characters 
whose fates interests the author. His stones are character- 
ized by the fact that they are not complicated like those 

of other scenarists who, to define their characters and con- 
vey abstract notions, create complicated entanglements 
which distort the cinegraphic realization of the film. In- 
deed, in order to define a character by placing his destiny 
in conflict with that of others and in order to do so in a 
naturalistic manner with the help of multiple occurrences 
in a chronological order, it is generally necessary to em 
ploy an enormous quantity of descriptive material. This 
surplus burden (surcharge) forcibly makes the director's 
tasks very superficial. He lacks time (the film being limit 
ed to 2000-2500 meters) to deepen his work. 

The story of "Life is Beautiful" is very simple and 
the characters are few. No complicated detail which might 
in itself be the expression of any idea. A few encounters, 
well worked out in depth. 

It is interesting to note that Rjechevsky's characters 
are always composed of types. His works are always satu- 1 
rated with the pathetique. His heroes do not require anyl 
preliminary characterisations, nurtured as they are with the 
true heroism of our times. To him, "fighter of the Red 1 
Army" is a word of enormous significance; this type, in 
long cloak, red star on his cap, must move the spectator with 
a certain emotion when he appears on the screen; the reflex 
must be clear as might be that of a French patriot at the 
sight of Napoleon's hat and gray coat. 

Thus Rjechevsky treats types in his scenarios. In his 
conception, it is a matter of principle that the character 
who will be photographed must not "act a part," it is not 
by the skill of his "acting" that he must be able to suggest 
what he is or is not. Rjechevsky requires that the char- 
acter appearing on the screen must by that fact alone, by 
his exterior whole, bound to the interior picture, incarnate 
in the mind of the spectator a well defined type. Alexan- 
der Rjechevsky is therefore one of our best scenarists. He 
has completely integrated himself in our epoch. His works 
have a very clear tendency which, refracted upon the 
creative level, transforms itself into a broad and profound 
sensation of our Soviet reality (actualite). His emphasis 
is not banal propaganda but true, moving greatness; it is, 
m my opinion, the image of the first splendid elan which 
swept our country in the days of civil war. 




oi .-in 





it is 

i u 


; :: 


TO those of our readers who have been waiting months 
for the appearance of the third issue of Experimental 
Cinema, we desire to emphasize that Experimental 
Cinema will continue to be published. In this respect, 
we must state, that, contrary to our earlier advertising 
and cover-announcement, Experimental Cinema will not 
appear under the classification of a monthly magazine, 
but will be published BY NUMBER. This, however, 
will in no way affect subscriptions, past, present, or fu- 
ture. Subscribers will receive TWELVE issues of the 
magazine, exactly as if it were being published at twelve 
regular intervals in the course of a year. We are em- 
phatic to state that this "number" policy is due chiefly 
to our great financial difficulties. We cannot appear with 
any regularity and at the same time put out the type of 
issue which we have taken as our standard, under the 
present severely strained and limited status of our 

If our readers in this country and abroad will cooper- 
ate with us to the extent of helping us build our sus- 
taining fund, we shall be able to appear with greater 


One Hour with Gilbert Seldes Is Too Much 



' t 


' 1 



THE clever sentimentality of Seldes is patent in every 
word he writes. He is always the infallible man of 
letters whether he is discoursing on the future of drink, 
the weather, Al Smith, love, communism or the prospects 
of cinema. His appalling glibness of manner appears to 
overcome all obstacles. The most dynamic force begins 
to lose its power when it comes up against his lukewarm, 
effortless pen. It is impossible to recognize the original 
substance after it has passed through his fine hands. Rock 
becomes as water when he says the word. All is illu- 
sion. Fancy is king, so let us exalt m 'kingly escape, is his 
password to the world around him. 

His capacity in short for extracting and paralyzing the 
heart of a thing and leaving the shell for the reader to 
play with, is manifest in every sentence of the book be 
fore me on the Cinema, 1 a book, which as an expression of 
the Cinema year 1929 (which unreeled the work of Eisen- 
stein, Vertov, Pudovkin, Dovjenko) leaves about as pow- 
erful an impression on the reader as a feather floating down 
the sides of a skyscraper on a cloudy day. 

Thus, Seldes, in his casual approach to the Soviet film, 
takes care to exaggerate the mast obvious defects of the 
films, — the hammer-vendome-palace episode from "New 
Babylon," or the omission of Trotzky from "Ten Days 
that Shook the World," etc., in order to substantiate in his 
own confused mind, the paltry notion that cinematic prin- 
ciple is one thing and social concept another. As though 
it is possible to experience the one without the other. As 
though it is faintly possible for even the most exacting 
cinematic competence to produce a film without involving 
some definite social point of view. 

Seldes, however, is only interested in the cake and "dis- 
dains the dough that bakes it." While the Soviet film 
appears to content him emotionally, he cannot let go of 
his crusty individualism long enough to accept the intel- 
lectual or social basis of the Soviet film, a separation that 
makes for compromise, cowardice and dishonesty. 

It is neither expected nor desired that Mr. Seldes ac- 
cept the social basis of the Soviet film but it certainly is 
expected and desired of him that he make clear what social 
basis he does accept — in the Hollywood film. And his in- 
ability to clarify his ideas as to why he finds the Soviet 
film so emotionally satisfying and yet so intellectually dis- 
satisfying, as well as his refusal to expose the hollowness 
of the American "social" film, betrays not only his blind- 
ness as a film critic but clearly reveals his deep social fas- 
cism as well. 

Seldes deprecates the brutality while admiring the in- 
genuity of the drawbridge episode in "Ten Days," one of 
the most powerful incidents in the film. "As a symbol, he 
writes, "it was brutal and overworked and ineffective; as 
an image of the confusion, the terror, the emotional ca- 
tastrophe of the ten revolutionary days, it was equally bru- 
tal and overworked, but it did not lack effect." It is ob- 
vious that the effect of the symbol was lost on the insipid 
Seldes. These were "Ten Days that Shook the World." 
What did Mr. Seldes expect, a milkshake? Why all this 
distrust and fear of "background" become foreground so 
characteristic of intellectuals of the calibre of Gilbert 
Seldes. What then are the problems of the day, if not the 
problems of the working masses, and in what films, in what 

literature of the day are these problems presented so pas- 
sionately, so dynamically, as in the Soviet film, or in Sov- 
iet literature, even in the least- of them. Where is social 
responsibility to the masses so inexorably a part of crea- 
tive effort, as it should be, as in the Soviet Union? Where- 
in lies the profound emptiness of Western art, if not in its 
lack of social responsibility, the lack of which makes an in- 
dividualistic painter like Picasso, milk and water; the full- 
ness of which endows a creator like Dovjenko with almost 
biblical spiritual integrity. "Seeds of Freedom," the Sov- 
iet film of Jewish struggle, may be weak cinematically, 
yet the basis of the film is so vitally concerned with cer- 
tain problems of our time that the film breaks thru the 
screen and becomes as important as life. How much su- 
perior is a film of this kind to the cinematically compe- 
tent but socially decadent film, "Patriot" of Ernst Lubitsch. 

But by his own admission Mr. Seldes has never ex- 
perienced the spiritual conversion of the Russian masses. 
Implicit in this admission is the feeling that he has never 
undergone much of any conversion, otherwise his pen 
would have absorbed the power such a conviction would 
lend it. Undoubtedly "Ten Days That Shook the World" 
is a pretty strong dose of medicine for the child who is 
"puzzled by the question where the light goes when it 
goes out" and who wonders "whether a tree falling in the 
depth of a forest makes a noise when there is no one by to 
hear." The emptiness of Seldes is not only uncontained; it 
is cumulative as well. 

He objects to the propaganda of the Soviet film on the 
basis that it is crude and bitter and naive. In New Babylon 
"the action is accelerated during the triumph of the Com- 
munards, so that sewing machines run faster and the whole 
world grows suddenly lighthearted and happy." In "Mo- 
ther" he quotes the prison-guard insect sequence. Both of 
these episodes to this reader are emotionally exhilarating to 
a high degree and logically developed in the film. Propa- 
ganda when it becomes exquisitely fused in the spirit, the 
tone of the film, is its own justification. And to say that 
the omission of Trotzky from "Ten Days" cancels a good 
deal of the character of the ii'lm is as baseless as citing 
the elimination of John Brown trom "The Birth of a Na- 
tion" as an instance of silly American propaganda. The 
reality of the film is there. 

If it is true, as Mr. Seldes suggests, that great men and 
great art can evolve out of Fascism as well as out of any 
other ism, where then, are the signs, the portents of great- 
ness, or of immanent greatness in Fascism? We would like 
to experience the moral fervor of a fascist film or the 
warmth of fascist fellowship. Where can one find such 
ecstasy? In "The Crowd," in the Italian film "Kiff Tebi?" 
Where the root is dead you cannot expect fulfillment of 
the flower. 

To superpose "montage" on the American or European 
film today without a corresponding change in the social 
basis of the film will not make films any better or any 
worse than they already are. It is like giving the sun-cure 
to an incurable consumptive in order to give his body some 
semblance to the flush of life. 

Seldes's book ends as though Eisenstein, Pudovkin, or 
Dovjenko had never existed. Only Chaplin, the quicksand 
in which Seldes is continually refreshing his sense of won- 




der and escape, emerges out of the thin air, a winged, tragic 

"The moving picture is an illusion,'* writes Seldcs and he 
bases his entire esthetic of the film on the potentialities of 
this statement. It is no wonder then that he has failed to 
understand the meaning or realize the possibilities of •'mon- 
tage'" since to him it is merely a trick, an illusion. And it 

is no wonder then since he has apparently embraced so- 
cial-facism, that he has failed to penetrate the Soviet film 
in both its cinematic and social implications. One hour 
with Mr. Seldes is too much — much too much. 

1. "An Hour with the Movies aid Talkies" — Gilbert Seldc. 
Lippincott, Philadelphia — $1.00. 


"Fragment of 
an Empire" 



"TPURK-SIB" initiates a new stage of film-development. 
M. It is the step from the film-play to film-reality. From 
a finished picture of reconstructed reality to the reality 
of fact and deed. "Turk-Sib" has predecessors. Every edu- 
cational film, every travel film, is in a way a predecessor, 
just as all films contain a larger or smaller kernel of reality. 

In this case, however, the quantity of reality becomes an 
artistic quality. 

"Turk-Sib" is a stretch of railroad built to make avail- 
able the wealth of cotton of Turkestan for the industries 
of the Soviet Republic and the wealth of timber and grain 
of Siberia for the industries of Turkestan. The specific 



reason lies much deeper. Even in capitalist countries, rail' 
roads, giant ships, airplanes and gigantic works are being 
built. But that alone is not a satisfactory reason for drama- 
tizing them, for art demands the motivation of it. Art 
when it shows the bloody nudity of birth must also show 
the cause. A strategic railroad which is constructed in 
one of the capitalist countries for the purpose of transport- 
ing human beings like cattle, or a railroad which is built 
in a capitalist country to squeeze out from the sweat of the 
workers fat dividends for the stockholders — is, when one 
shows it through the camera lens, a bloody miscarriage 
of a despised and murderous system. But human great- 
ness gives to the machine-epos, "Turk-Sib", the necessary 
purpose and goal of this colossal work. Its greatness 
lies in the fact that to the question "Why?" What Pur- 
pose?" the answer is given: "Here is socialist construction 
in practice." The socialist construction is the creative- 
moral factor, of which this deed, the construction of the 
railroad, imparts to established reality, the sense, the 
strength and the enthusiasm of the film. 

The picture reminds us that the world-bourgeoisie rea- 
lize with bitterness that they are being confronted with a 
territory where they have nothing more to say. It is the 
territory of the world's first socialist construction, evi- 
denced in the will of man and machine welded together 
in the act of creating a new world. In this case, the Rus- 
sians' own version of one of the important manifestations 
of the 5 -Year Plan in the world-scheme of things, was 
called TURK-SIB. . . . 

"Turk-Sib 1931! Turk-Sib 31' Turk-Sib 31" . . . Accord- 
ing to the Five- Year Plan, "Turk-Sib must be completed 
in the summer of 1931". But by the time it reached the 
German screen, it was called "Turk-Sib 1930". For Turk- 
Sib has been finished in 1930, and not only, as we for a 
short time believed, in the Fall, but already in May of this 
past year. What lies between Turk-Sib 31 and Turk-Sib 
30 is called "socialist competition", which must not be 
confused with cut-throat, capitalist competition. What we 
see with ecstatic eyes is the unchecked, increasing speed of 
the Soviet working-mass, which is leading humanity, to use 
the words of Friedrich Engels, "out of the realm of neces- 
sity into the realm of freedom." 

The film-art of the Soviet Union has traveled only one 
way, the way in which the reality of Communist accomp- 
lishment was reflected. In spite of the short span of time, 
many important periods have been traversed, the enumera- 
tion of which does not seem superfluous to us. 

The first period "Polikuschka" and "Aelita." Two films, 
outwardly fundamentally different, and still not without in- 
ner connection. "Polikuschka", which was based on a 
novel by Tolstoi, deals with a poor, good muzhik with 
trembling soul. Here one looks backward, deeply, into 
the past, into the Russia that is rapidly disappearing, body 
and soul. In "Aelita", a Utopian film, one deals with men 
of the future and inhabitants of Mars. Films of this cate- 
gory look forward to the fantastic future, amusing but 
not scientific or ideologically founded. 

The second period yielded unforgettable creations. It 
begins with "The Armored Cruiser Prince Potemkin." To 
this group belong also the remarkable films "Ten Days 
That Shook the World" and "The End of St. Petersburg", 
and also "Mother" and the anti-imperialist film "Storm 
Over Asia." Here, historical reality was reconstructed. 
The reflected reality of these film-creations possesses a 

passion and a natural integrity that gives it the value of 
a deed, or a revolutionary occasion, of the present day. 

Then follows a group — narrow in its historical subject- 
matter but great in its true-to-life quality — representing 
the life of the individual. Problems arose from the new 
order of things, problems which are still in discussion since 
the great Revolution of 1917. The film "Bed and Sofa" 
(sometimes known as "Three In a Basement") by Alex- 
ander Room, and a number of other films, which unfortu- 
nately were not shown in Germany attacked the problems 
which arise when out of the ruins of the older order of 
things a new life is in the course of creation. 

The next step is "Turk-Sib". A forerunner of "Turk- 
Sib" was Eisenstein's "Old and New", which had for a 
theme socialist construction in the field of agriculture. 
However, this film does not sustain itself without artifi- 
cialism. Other predecessors of "Turk-Sib" were the films 
"Pamir", "Afghanistan", "descriptive" films such as "A 
Trip through the Soviet Union" and the culture films in 
general. These educational films are all closer related 
to "Turk-Sib" than the kino-eye films of Vertov, where 
there is a very strong sense of being but a very meager 
sense of self-consciousness. 

New problems always arise in individual life. The 
growth of socialist society offers such manifold problems 
that art can never cease creating. Inasmuch as these prob- 
lems were a part of the reality of their time, they will 
remain works of art for the future. Let us recall "Potem- 
kin". An artistic, deeply felt reality here connects with 
strong roots into the life of the individual. The role of a 
work of art is not ended when a new work of art of the 
time appears. When there are close ties established with 
the basic social structure of life, the work of art remains 
and outlives new art-works when the new are untrue and 

The director of the film "Turk-Sib" is Victor Turin. 
If we mention him only now after we have just asserted 
that the directing in "Turk-Sib" was the work of the 
spirit of socialist construction, we believe that in this way 
we do honor to Turin in the highest degree. By this he 
is "promoted" from being the director of a great film to 
the status of an important member of a great deed, and he 
is considered on a level with the workers who in the icy 
cold of Siberia and in the torrid heat of Turkestan are oc- 
cupied with the greatest human deeds in the world today. 

"Turk-Sib" flashes on the screens of the world. But al- 
ready film-technique has taken a step forward. The talk- 
ing, sound and colored film of America is a technical ad- 
vancement. However, in the Soviet Union, the first very 
promising attempts are already being made. Technical 
improvements cannot be a hindrance to an advancing social 
class in spite of the fact that the technical facilities are 
still numerically greater in the hands of the opponent. 
Very soon the sound film will signify a further gain for 
the Soviet kino. The civilization of the bourgeoisie has 
still some of its plundered riches to show. But withered, 
weak and demoralized as it is, it has nothing to say. Wait 
until the Soviet sound film shall sound! That will be the 
real beginning of the new, valuable, world-important 
sound film! The time is not far off now; one can await 
it with patience. The Soviet sound film will keep the 
promise which the Soviet silent film made. . . . Time and 
fate are working for the advancing proletariat. 

(Translated by Eleonore Erb) 



OUTSIDE of increased unemployment, a large number 
of starvation-suicides and an $8,000,000 bank-robbery, 
the only events of genuine significance that have occurred 
in the American film-capital since the last issue of Experi- 
mental Cinema (June, 1930) are the successive, although 
widely separated, showings of four Soviet films. These 
four productions: Old and New, Turk-Sib, A Fragment of 
an Empire and China Express, were enthusaistically re- 
ceived. As in the case of the preceding eight Soviet 
showings in Hollywood (see Hollywood Bulletin in E. C. 
of June, 1930), the most whole-hearted and intelligent 
reception came from the lay public; the most confused, 
befuddled and downright stupid reactions from the film- 
industry — that ia, from the so-called "professionals" and 
"technicians," the job-holders. Old and New, because it 
had been publicized and talked about for a long time pre- 
vious (under the former title of The General Line), and 
also because its screening at the Filmarte coincided with 
the heralded arrival of Eisenstein in Hollywood, drew the 
largest crowds of any of these four pictures, but it was 
by no means the most popular nor the best understood. 

Judging by the personal reactions of individuals con- 
tacted, we should say that Fragment of an Empire was the 
most extensively admired and that China Express was next. 
Turk-Sib elicited applause mainly from the type of native 
boobery that sees "propaganda" the moment a capitalist 
is portrayed as a rattlesnake or a death's-head. Turk-Sib 
had none of the sheer communist ecstasy of Old and New, 
none of the passion and bitterness of Ermler's Fragment 
and certainly none of the violence of the younger Trau- 
berg's melodrama, China Express. This last picture aroused 
the most vehement bursts of applause (except for a single 
sequence in Fragment, which surpassed it in this respect) 
of any Filmarte picture since the showing of Ten Days 
many months ago. Turk-Sib is what is always taken as 
a "purely cultural" film, i.e., a film which, important 
enough in itself, makes no indictment of slavery-systems 
and modestly contents itself with landscapes, railroad engi- 
neering and triumphs over Nature. Turk-Sib is culture, 
but Old and New, incorporating a reel or two on the 
ruthkssness and greed of the kulaks, is not "culture," and 
as to Fragment of an Empire — it had a sequence in which 
a bewildered peasant demanded to know who was running 
the new society of Russia and the answer given was a 
panorama of the workers and peasants of the Communist 
Republic, a sure indication that Ermler's picture was not 
"culture" but "propaganda." Nevertheless, it was this 
picture that made the greatest impression in Hollywood 
and on the largest number of individuals. "It's propa- 
ganda," they said, "but marvelous stuff anyway." Even 
the cameramen this time forgot to insist that they had 
"done this sort of thing ten years ago." It was surprising 
to find as many as two photographers who voluntarily 
stated that the battle-field scenes in Fragment of an 
Empire, which, you may remember, were taken in solid 
darkness broken only by a long searchlight following a 
fleeing soldier across the screen, should have been thought 
of in connection with a certain recent war-picture. This 
was an almost "revolutionary" advance over the arrogance 
and inferiority kick-up that characterized the film-colony's 
reactions to the earlier Soviet films shown here. 



It will be better to pass over the hectic "career" of 
Eisenstein in Hollywood. We had originally planned, and 
had advertised to that effect, to give our readers a detailed 
account of what Eisenstein's life was like in the American 
film-capital. We wanted to print a graphic description 
of his reception here, his "home-life," as the American 
bourgeoisie always say, his troubles, the endless "stalling," 
the rejection of story after story, either by himself or by 
the company, each taking it a turn at this game. We wanted 
to have a good laugh with our readers at the hypocrisy and 
sycophancy of certain trade journals which adulated the 
man to the heavens during the initial period of his ^ion- 
ization" but which suddenly changed their tone into one 
of cheap sneering and domestic whitewashing as soon as 
Eisenstein was definitey dropped from the company that 
had engaged him ... It is best, however, not to touch 
these sores. We must, for various reasons, modestly con- 
tent ourselves with a half-hearted desire to be a bit merci' 
ful to the industry that could find no place for the Rus- 
sian's genius and not one dollar out of its millions for a 
picture under his direction. The picture that Eisenstein 
brings with him from Mexico will no doubt make history 
enough for our Hollywood-ridden Western hemisphere. 

Shortly after his severance with the company, Eisenstein 
was privately financed by individuals who had previously 
admired his work. His backers are in no way connected 
with the film-industry. Eisenstein is in Mexico now, work- 
ing in the third or fourth month on an original project. 
The film Eisenstein is making in Mexico is non-political. 
He is producing a film on the life of an old Mexican tribe. 

The recent "trouble" he encountered there while "shoot- 
ing" some Mexican peasants' hovels was more complicated 
than, but not half so drastic as, the outside world believed. 
There have been whispers from individuals who are "m" 
on the project about a "mysterious" telegram from a cer- 
tain official headquarter in Hollywood. You can judge 
for yourself whose slimy hands have been spoiling the 
pie. But meantime Eisenstein, Alexandrov and Tisse con- 
tinue to make their film. This production out of the 
heart of Mexico will have sound. It will be the first im- 
portant film to come from that wonderful land to the 

Certain Americans have found Mexico a good place for 
oil-wells, but have never thought of it for films, except 
of a luridly slanderous type. Eisenstein, on the other hand, 
finds much down there that is important and magnificent. 

By all the indications, his film should be equally as im- 


Ten years of waiting. Eight years of polite "stalling" 
from the Rockefeller Institute — interested, oh so interested 
m the "advancement" of "culture" (culture officially in- 
terpreted, of course). Years and years of crushed efforts 
m Hollywood. Trying to speak the language of barbarians 
and not succeeding. Five years of wasted energy trying 
to rais $25,000 to film the culture and customs of a fast 
dying tribe of American Indians. And now Robert Fla 
herty, the director of Nanook of the North (financed by 
a fur-company because of its advertising value) and of 





Moana of the South Seas (mutilated by the producers be- 
fore release), is cnroute to the USSR, the Free Workers' 
Republic, to discuss with the Sovkino Corporation a film, 
or possibly a number of films, to be made by him on the 
tribes of Soviet Central Asia. Flaherty will attempt in 
these films to provide European Russia, as well as the 
world at large, with a clear and exact understanding of 
the economic organization of the Tartar and Mongolian 
tribes that constitute the bulwark of the Soviet Union in 
Asiatic Russia. A Soviet Nanook or Moana should have 
enormous value, in building socialism among these tribes. 
Sovkino couldn't have picked a better man for this job 
than Flaherty. The film he makes there should consider- 
ably expand the distribution of the Soviet product: it should 
have access to places where the dramatic films, because of 
fancied political "reasons," are not permitted. 

by Eisenstein. 

) CHARM 1". 

On a Theory of "Sources 




y Iff 

::■ rti 

ed bj 

ELIE FAURF presented us with a useful term when 
he invented the word "cinernetaphysics." In recent 
years there have arisen enterprising young cinema enthu- 
siasts in a number of countries to whose writings and activi' 
ties Faure's learned term applies to perfection. All these 
groups and individuals may be designated as "cinemeta- 
physicians," the word meaning those who, having emerg- 
ed from some field — usually the literary — wherein they 
have failed to capture laurels, seek to heap upon the com- 
paratively virgin field of the movie a sort of high-sounding 
witchcraft with awes the uninitiated and nauseates the 

It is the belief that Mr. Potamkin has taken his place 
in the ranks of this tendency that prompts me to write 
this article. 

For well over a year he has consistently expounded in 
Close-Up a theory of "sources," which has so far remained 
unchallenged. The deeply fallacious implications of this 
theory, or method, the originality of which its author 
is so proud, became alarmingly apparent when, comment- 
ing upon Vidor's Hallelujah in an article entitled "The 
Aframerican Cinema," he developed the thesis that a study 
of African origins is indispensable for a correct filmic por- 
trayal of the American Negro. 

. . . I want one (a Negro) as rich as the 
Negroes in Poirier's documents of Africa. I am 
not interested primarily in verbal humor, in clown- 
ing nor in sociology. (Emphasis mine — S.B.) I 
want cinema and I want cinema at its source. 
To be at its source, cinema must get at the source 
of its contents. The Negro is plastically interest- 
ing when he is most negroid. In films he will be 
plastically interesting only when the makers of the 
films know thoroughly the treatment of the Ne- 
gro structure in the African plastic, when they 
know of the treatment of his movements in the 
ritual dances, like the dance of the circumcision, 
the Gan-a. . . 


I might begin by asking Mr. Potamkin since when he 
has learned to dispense with sociology in his cinema, when 
only a few months ago, in an article published in Monde 
entitled "Cinema Americain," he wrote. 

"De tous les films americains, e'est le film comi- 
que qui a eu le plus grand development. Ce phe- 
nomene est du surtout a l'impulsion donnee par 
un etranger, Charles Chaplin. La contribution de 
Chariot aux films americains a ete de deux ordres: 
l'expression ou stylisation controlee, et la reference 
sociale ou satire." (Emphasis mine — S.B.) 

Think of it! The "social reference" is here considered 
as one of the two main factors in the films of Chaplin, who 
Potamkin believes is largely responsible for the "tremendous 
development" of the American comedy. 

Further in the same article, its author recommends as 
a "source" for the present-day American cinema, Sidney 
Drew, an early comedian "who introduced the satire of 
servants of the petty-bourgeoisie into the American mov- 
ies."* And again: " 'Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's 
Court,' a broad and marvelous satire on the high American 
bourgeoisie. . .(!)" Potamkin points out in that same article 
that in order to perfect the "essence of its themes" the 
American cinema must refer back to its early history which 
he claims is replete with sociologically significant subjects. 
(What are "sociologically significant subjects," Mr. Po- 

Even if the source theory be conceded, why this ardent 
clamor for reference to the sociological film as an American 
source and at the same time the assertion "I am not inter- 
ested primarily in . . . soriology," when possible sources 
for Negro cinema are considered? Am I to accept this as 
a new brand of discrimination? 

I want Potamkin to inform me how he would go about 
the matter of making a film on the American Negro with- 
out consideration for the socio-political motive that under- 
lies every phase of Negro life in the United States. Mind 
you, I am not asking for a thesis, but consider the work 
of the Russians whose praise he has sung so loudly. There 



i . great cinema because there is real insight into its only 
important source, the dialectic movements of the social 
organism and its motor: the class struggle. 

If it is Negro plastic he is after, and that only, 
(are you not diving headlong into the polluted waters of 
"art-for-art's-sake," Potamkin?) then Potamkin is deeply 
mistaken when he asks for a study of "Negro structure in 
the African plastic . . . " Capitalist America has created 
a new Negro who in virtue of his position in the American 
social structure is as far removed from his African origin 
as his so-called "white-nordic superiors" are from theirs. 
Read Prof. Reuter's essay on the subject, and you will 
learn that even in the sphere of plastic we have noth- 
ing to find at the African source. No, Mr. Potamkin, 
we "are" not "always what we were;" this is a vulgar and 
unscientific concept. The Negro of 1930 is not (even 
physiologically, take note!) what he was in 1870. In 
sixty years the black population of the United States has 
become so transformed that official figures place one third 
of its total in the mulatto group. The ratio of this trans- 
formation is at the present time so great that within fifty 
years Potamkin's "Wooly, tall, broad-nosed and deep- 
voiced" Negro may be somewhat of a rarity in America. The 
assimilative process goes on despite the fact that the Amer- 
ican ruling-class is segregating the Negro worker and pitting 
his white class brother against him. The inescapable fact 
that a white bourgeoisie exploits both the Negro and white 
worker is the determinant.** The class issue governs above 
everything else. 

The almost complete metamorphosis of the Negro on 
American soil in a comparatively short historical period is 
the most instructive and essential feature to consider in 
any approach of the problem. While an investigation 
of origins can have great value both historically and in 
this case also anthropologically, it cannot, in the instance 
of the American Negro, bring us one step closer to the 
revelation of the laws that govern the history of the black 
man in capitalist America. "Aframeriean" is obviously a 

The conception of "sources" in this case can only lead 
us back to the O'Nellian philosophy so slickly expounded 
in The Emperor Jones that even Potamkin, by his own 
admission, was able to swallow it whole. "We are always 
what we were." Emperor Jones says as much: Only a 
thin veneer separates the American Negro from his Afri- 
can origin (read "source"), and under primitive conditions 
he will revert to the fears, hysteria and superstitions of 
his tribal forefathers. 

How strange these fairy-tales must seem to the Negroes 
in the steel-mills of Pittsburgh, the packing-houses of Chi- 
cago, and the coalpits of Pennsylvania! Hollywood would 
rather go back to all the "sources" in the world than film 
the real American Negro. Any documentary film on the 
life of the American Negro would pack more tragedy 
per foot of negative than a thousand falsehoods like 
Hallelujah! But Hollywood is the monster-filter of 
capitalism thru which is rifted American reality, and that 
is why we cannot expect it to give us the truth about 
Black America in its films. 

Giovannittfs lines come to my mind: 

I call you to the bar of the dawn to give witness if 
this is not what they do in America when they 
wake up men at midnight to hang them until 
they're dead. 

The Negro on the screen! What a vision! I want to 

take Potamkin by the hand and lead him to the hell-holes 
of Georgia and Alabama where "they wake up men at 
midnight to hang them until they're dead" ... I want 
to guide him thru the slums of Harlem where black babes 
die by the score in pest-mfe5ted tenements. I want to 
show him the twelve million that King Vidor will never 
dare to approach. Let him then speak to me of "sources," 
and the '"dance of the circumcision" . . . 

The whole recent discovery of the Negro in art bears 
the imprint of Potamkin's "source" ideology. The discov- 
ery was made by respectable whites who do not understand 
the modern American Negro and who beneath their wor- 
ship of spirituals, jaw and African sculpture, hide a deeply 
traditional class contempt for him. 

Van Vechten in literature, Covarrubias in art, and now 
Vidor in the film! Never mind the yaller girl. Let us 
even forget the cast recruited in cabarets to interpret South- 
ern cotton-pickers, and the "Negro" songs composed by 
Irving Berlin. Has not Vidor told us about "the remark- 
able emotional nature of the Negro?" What is this atav- 
istic color that permeates the entire film, if not a vulgar 
"source" philosophy? Remember tor a moment the fraud- 
ulent baptismal scene, the stagey and exaggerated revival 
meeting, the emphasis on the hysterical and the primitive 
in every move of the characters. 

Hallelujah! is bad cinema because its director attempted 
to substitute the white bourgeois lie about the Negro's 
mystico-religious and hysterical nature for the proletarian 
reality of the Negro as a doubly exploited member of the 
American working-class. Neither the most thoro study 
of Poirier's films ncr the closest scrutiny of African prim- 
itive art forms could have helped Mr. Vidor to give us 
a better document than what he has offered us in Halle- 
lujah! The result might have been a more pretentious but 
hardly a better film. 

Sociological implications can never be avoided, no mat- 
ter how esthetically disinterested cither a novel, a play or 
a film may be. Viewed in this light Hallelujah! is as j 
spurious as Abie's Irish Rose. Unless one is working I 
with purely abstract forms, this cannot be escaped. The 
construction of any concrete theme in art in which human I 
material is involved strictly implies the drawing up of ! 
definite social relationships as a prerequisite. 

Obviously, all this is very elementary. But Mr. Potam- 
kin has skipped over these basic considerations into an im- ji 
possible position where an esthetically abstracted Negro I 
essence in the him has become the thing for him. And 
that is the reason why, in one of his perennial quarrels I 
with Gilbert Seldes, alter two pages of trifling on tech'JJ 
nicalitics, it was only in passing that he found it necessary i 
to mention . . . "the thematic false-rendering in the nar- 
ration" ot Hallelujah! 

If we investigate Potamkin's application of the source | 
theory to the Jew in the film, we find the same serious 

fallacy repeated. 

the importance of the Jewish 

physiognomy, like the Negro, an unexploited cinema plastic 
material, the singularity of the intensive Jewish gestures, 
and most outstanding, the Yiddish and Hebrew utterances 
as the material of the sonal film." 

In the case of the Jew, Potamkin has been a little less 
specific and also a little less analytical of the matter. Try 
to go back to Jewish "sources" and you get as a result a 
most colorful mixture ol almost every "source" in the 
world. May I again take the liberty to refer H. A. P. to 
a scientific source? Read the investigation by Karl Kautsky 
entitled, Are the Jews A Race? and you will discover that 




the modern Jew is even further from his sources than 
the American Negro. The Jew-type that you have m 
mind is vanishing from the earth even faster than the 
"wooly, broad-nosed Negro" is disappearing from the Am- 
erican scene. Kautsky has pushed his research so far as 
to prove conclusively that even the legendary Jewish pro- 
boscis is now only a memory. Rather sad for the Jewish- 
plastic enthusiasts, but a tact nevertheless. 

A very interesting point: In his article on the Jew .is 
movie-subject, Mr. Potamkin makes mention of almost 
every Yiddish film ever produced. Every gone-and-for- 
gotten attempt is brought up to find its place in the scheme 
of the investigation. Not a single word is mentioned about 
the film, which, its technical shortcomings notwithstand- 
ing, is in every respect the greatest one on the Jew ever 
made. I have in mind the Soviet production entitled 
Seeds of Freedom. It is a film m which is portrayed the 
struggle of the \ ounger Russian-Jewish generation against 
the conservative background of Yiddish orthodoxy. It is 
a dramatisation of the birth of a new Jew who is begin- 
ning to shed the fetters of all his "sources" to merge with 
his advanced (revolutionary) class surroundings. In Hirsch 
Lekkert, the hero, we see symbolized the emergence of the 
Jewish worker who is being remade by his social milieu. 

And I know that Potamkin has seen Seeds of Freedom. . . 

The consideration of cinematic plastic by no means be- 
comes a minor one simply because a prototype at the 
"source" cannot serve our purpose. On the contrary, new 
structures, new gestures, new atmospheres, new forms 
beckon the real artist. 

Unlike Mr. McPherson, editor of Close-Up, I am oi 
the opinion that the cinema needs more and not less theory. 
But let us learn to distinguish between correct theory and 
the eclectic humbug which results from attempts to be 
original at all costs. Excluding isolated and individual 
contributions of value to the theory and esthetics of the 
cinema, we may safely say that only the Russians have 
created a scientific system in theory which has fully proven 
its value in practice. This theory mu;t be deepened and 
enriched with our further investigations and experiences 
in the cinematic field, but the creator of misleading theo- 
retical concepts is as criminal as "the geographer who 
would draw up false maps for navigators." The mental 
gymnastics of the French bourgeois cinema esthetes gall me 
as much as pragmatic America's contempt for all theory. 
More clarity and less confusion! Less phrase^, and more 

In the last year there has become noticeable a 
change of heart in their former attitude towards the Rus- 
sian film on the part of many bourgeois intellectual cinema 
circles throughout the world. Some are complaining of 
"too much theory." A French bourgeois critic, formerly 
friendly to Russian films, recently wrote about his weari- 
ness of the Soviet kino. Another French cineaste has 
spoken of his disgust while emphasizing what he terms 
"the falsehood of the Russians." (Rene Clair). The 
French cinema world actively boycotted Eisenstein during 
hi. stay in Paris. And, in America — 

Potamkin has already said: "I do not think the Rus- 
sian kino has as yet found a method that suits its profound 
material ... the Russian films had better find a new 
method. . . "*** 

This was said by one who only a short time ago devoted 
whole articles in prai;e of the "old method." And take 
note of the almost threatening "had better." I think I 

can detect more sincerity in Seldes's "technical trick" 

I'll wait and see . . . 

Paris, March 1930. 

*On this point a young Hollywood critic has the following to say: 
"Potamkin's mention of an insignificant bourgeois actor, forgot- 
ten today even by his former admirers, Sidney Drew, is an attec- 
tation that is typical of Potamkin's writings of the last year. Who 
was Drew, anyway? A thousand others also satirized the servants 
of the petty-bourgeoisie. This type of light, gay, chuckling satire 
is of no more significance to the type of satire that the servants of 
the bourgeoisie require of film-creators than the humor of Will 
Rogers is like the humor of a cartoon in the "Daily Worker." It is 
affectations of this nature that make Potamkin's writings sterile, 
sophisticated to the point of nauseous glibness . . . He is so anxious 
to show that he knows every Tom, Dick and Harry that ever ap- 
peared before a camera or that ever ground out a six-reel piece of 
kitsch, that he mi.sses the vital essence of his material." 

** Thi.s does not mean, of course, that the Negro is not faced 
with special problems within the working class — problems which 
necessitate new means of combat as part of the proletariat's broader 
revolutionary struggle. Lynching, for instance, is obviously a part 
of the oppression of Negroes as a race. 

There is a bourgeois school of thot that denies the ex'ste ice of 
a "Negro problem" on the ground that assimilation will event- 
ually eliminate the Negro from the American social scene. This 
is a reactionary evasion of a sore in the capitalist system. 

The fact that the Negro is changing thru assimilation does not 
mean that he is not now the most exploited member of the Ameri- 
can working class. 

Both the "source" theory and that of "eve itual assimilation" arc 
therefore reactionary. 

The object of this article is to show that in dealing with the 
Negro as subject-matter for the film, Potamkin has merely re- 
versed an old bourgeois "idea" into another just as counter-revo- 
lutionary. Instead of evading the issue by claiming a "natural" 
solution in some distant future, he has escaped to Africa. Be- 
tween these two theories, the oppressed American Negro worker 
remains suspended in mid-air between his past and his future. 
***New Masses — New York, December 1929. 

"What renders the influence of the motion picture ex- 
traordinarily powerful is the fact that it acts on, and thru, 
one's feelings; in other words, in order to he in the right, 
the film needs no reasoning. A story with nothing in it, 
provided it causes deep emotion, will succeed in modifying 
the conception of life as seen by a young girl or the man 
m the street, much more effectively than a very solid ar- 
gument might eucceed in doing. 

"Realizing this power of the cinema as a means of per- 
suasion, the Church could not regard the cinema as a negli- 
gible quantity. Being responsible for faith and morals, the 
Church owed it to its mission to direct attention to this 
new invention, just as it had given its attention to printing 
from its first appearance. It cannot remain indifferent to 
anything that acts upon conscience. Catholics must, there- 
fore, in so far as they are worthy of this name, turn their 
attention and their activities to the problem of the cinema, 
and at once. 

"So important is the part that the cinema already plays 
m our society that further delay in dealing with it would 
be fraught with serious consequences." 


(Director of the International Catholic 

Office of the Cinema.) 

Page Father Edmund Walsh, of Georgetown University, 
who, before one of the Fish meetings, for the first time 
revealed to a horrified world that the Soviet Union made 
use of the film for propaganda purposes! 



FROM the point of view of King Vidor the functions of 
a film director are analagous to those of a journalist 
in that both report what they see, the difference between 
them being that the film director reports what he sees 
by means of camera lenses and the film strip. However, 
like the reporter, what the film director reveals depends 
upon how as well as upon what he sees. His perceptions 
may be so limited that he never sees what is significant. Let 
us see how Vidor has applied his theory in practice. 

Vidor sought to deal with the late imperialist war in 
The Big Parade because he thought no one had properly 
reported it. He followed this film by efforts to report in 
The Crowd the experience of a white collar robot in an 
American metropolis, and in Hallelujah the life of the 
Southern negro. Billy the Kid offered an unusual oppor- 
tunity for interpreting the life of the frontier. Each one 
of these films in construction and ideology shows that 
Vidor fails to see his subject matter in relation to ex- 

Perhaps his mental attitude towards reality and nature 
may be illustrated at the outset here by this incident: Re- 
cently Laurence Stallings went to Vidor with a scenario for 
a picture. The first half of this scenario, entitled The Big 
Ditch, is a glorified account of how the late General Goe- 

thals and his men fought yellow fever during the con- 
struction of the Panama Canal. A provision was made in 
the scenario script to show the close-up of an innoculation- 
needle being thrust into a man's arm. Vidor objected to 
this close-up on the score of a purely personal dislike for 
the scene. This is typical of his attitude towards funda- 
mental facts. 

Visually and structurally, the well-built motion picture 
is the intensive objectification of subjective experience. 
Moreover, it must be that if it is to succeed as cinema. In 
any form of imaginative art the ultimate expression must 
be a union of the inner experience of the artist with out- 
ward reality. This is axiomatic particularly of the cine- 
ma, the most direct of the arts. If a director is timorous 
about facts or does not know how to approach his subject 
matter so that the spectator will feel the subjective phase 
of action and experience, his detached attitude towards his 
material will result in a film incomplete or spurious in 
structure, scenes, implausible in meaning, and image-pat- 
terns inexpressive of visual and plastic values. This is the 
approach of Vidor, as of nearly all other film practitioners 
in American Cinema — nor it is an approach that can alto- 
gether be ascribed to the limitations of film producers. 

Vidor, like many of Hollywood's film practitioners, 





From Fragment of an Empire 




not only reveals a feeble eoneeption of experienee in his 
films but also one that shows an unawareness of the vis' 
ual and plastie values of an aetion, of an object, beeause 
of his inability to relate internal and external experience 
In a world grappling with the problems of unemployment, 
hunger and capitalist exploitation, the American cinema of- 
fers films like Hallelujah and Billy the Kid. It is to Vidor"s 
credit, however, that unlike other directors in the Ameri- 
can cinema, he sought to apply certain structural methods 
that would have helped him if his philosophy of life were 
different. By using the structural devices best suited to in- 
tensify the emotional content of an idea through concen- 
tration upon the plastic and visual values of an object, 
Vidor only succeeds in increasing the flabbiness of an al- 
ready flabby approach to his material. In Billy the Kid 
he misused the detail-close-up — the most intensive visual 
expression of the film — by filling the screen with the hand 
of an unimportant character holding a hand-puzzle to sug- 
gest comedy relief, when he might have used a detail- 
close-up of Mrs. MeSween's eyes revealing her anger at the 
rebuff she received from Col. Dudley. It explains why 
Vidor and many American directors do not know when to 
use the close-up, and accounts for much of the general dis- 
approval of meaningless close-ups, as employed in Holly- 
wood film practice, on the part of critics and spectators. 
Since Vidor's approach to his material is one of evading 
experience and of rendering incomplete statement it is 
clear why he uses the methods of a groper when directing 
his players on the set, why he depends upon trial-and-error 
methods, and leans entirely upon the reactions of his 
players rather than to elicit from them an expression that 
is consistent with the emotional content required by a scene 
or an image. 

Vidor's idea of reporting the late war seemed to center 
upon introducing a French girl in The Big Parade as a 
symbol of sex appeal winding its way in and out of a long 
line of motor trucks loaded with men to bid adieu to her re- 
parting Yankee lover. Vidor reported the war so well in 
The Big Parade that the notion prevailed in Europe that 
Americans believe they alone had fought and won the war; 
that they alone had not known the experience of defeat; 
that only they had battled their way throueh the Ger- 
man trenches. Compare the comedy relief scenes of 
Americans larking about in Paris cafes and jesting 
in the trenches, with the stark scenes m The End 
of St. Petersburg and in the German film Behind the Ger- 
man Lines, whose titles were changed so as to glorify the 
war before the film would be shown in American film 
houses. Vidor did not feel intensely about war as did Bar- 
busse the Frenchman; Latzko, the Hungarian and Pudovkin, 
the Russian. Many Americans who saw service behind 
the trenches looked upon The Big Parade as a vkual pre- 
sentation reminiscent of the good times they had in Paris. 

It The Big Parade had been a report of the war accord- 
ing to Vidor's assumptions, it would have sent spectators 
home with a hatred of militarism and of the forces that 
inveigled us into the war. But Vidor centered his comment 
upon the war in an absurd love affair between a French 
peasant girl and an American doughboy while men were be- 
ing blown to bits. He omitted entirely any refernce to the 
financiers and dollar-ayear men who were amassing for- 
tunes. The Big Parade followed the beat of drums, and 
wove a halo around flag- waving and woman-hunting instead 
of breeding a great hatred of war and a profound pity for 
the millions of war's victims. No wonder that Eisenstein 
pronounced The Big Parade as war propaganda. The chief 

technical virtue in The Big Parade was its powerful visual 
percussion in the movement of men, men, men, and trucks, 
trucks, trucks, and the tension in which this movement 
broke at the parting of the two lovers. Otherwise, it was 
entirely negligible as a film. 

The Crowd is Vidor's best effort.. And what a poor 
thing it is in the final analysis! If Vidor were more of 
the artist and analytical thinker in matters involving social 
and personal relationships, this film might well have be- 
come a challenge to our cheer leaders and to tho_e of Hol- 
lywood's production minds whose ideas of subject matter 
for the films are limited to the presentation of false sex 
emotion, prize fights, underworld life and comedy relief. 

The failure of The Crowd is Vidor's failure to analyze 
and visualize reality. It supplies producers with the argu- 
ment that the artistic film cannot succeed, whereas The 
Crowd did not succeed because it dealt unconvincingly 
with experience. 

In The Crowd Vidor had a great theme — about an aver- 
age unskilled white collar slave, wishfully believing in the 
certainty of the lucky break, his marriage on the win- 
nings of a prize won in an advertising contest, the two 
children resulting from this helter-skelter union, the pit- 
tance of his weekly wage, the loss of his job, the animosity 
of a wife's lower middle class brothers, the stylized move- 
ment of the white collar robots in a large office. Although 
Vidor demonstrated an adept use of the moving camera, 
the film visualized none of the social commentaries that 
would have made this a great crowd picture. The Crowd 
lacked the structural treatment to make it significant as 
cinema. If he had possessed a greater appreciation of the 
plastic and visual basis of the cinema, Vidor might have 
given to the image-content of his scenes some of the ec- 
static quality of film-poetry born of deep social convic- 
tions. Everything in The Crowd dealt with externals al- 
ready obvious and familiar to every film spectator. Ex- 
ternals predominated because Vidor is, after all, a groping, 
shallow-minded reporter instead of an artkt, a film-poet, an 
interpreter of experience. That is why he gave us only 
the surface aspects of the crowd in its Coney Island mood, 
its shopping expeditions, its gulping of sandwiches and pop, 
its deadly uniformity. Vidor neglected to show to the 
spectator in the film-house that a& a mass the crowd might 
exercise the collective will to shape its own destiny. The 
Crowd left the spectator in the film house resigned to the 
acceptance of defeat and futility. It offered no catharsis — 
no emotional release to the spectator in terms of experi- 

Hallelujah revealed the conventional viewpoint about 
the Southern negro, picturing him according to the lowest 
estimate held him by the white man, a singer of spirit- 
uals, a patron of cheap dives, a petty gambler, a fanatical 
revivalist. A film artist with a penetrative social outlook 
would have built from this material a great motion pic- 
ture based upon the aspirations of the negro worker to 
cope with his environment in the South. Why does Vidor 
insist on constructing films that pretend to deal with vital 
social themes when his own social viewpoint and under- 
standing of reality are so utterly bourgeois and so extreme- 
ly limited? Granted that he may wish to avoid the puerili- 
ties of Hollywood, he is like a man setting out on a jour- 
ney to an unknown destination and after traveling for a 
brief distance decides he can reach his goal by running 
around in circles. Vidor must know that structurally there 
is nothing significant about Hallelujah. At best it is glorified 
vaudeville, with the addition of a few silent scenes. 



In Billy the Kid Vidor is at his feeblest. It is not to be 
wondered at, that its producers needed the assistance of 
seventynine year old Thomas Edison's name to ballyhoo 
the film. It was heralded as the first wide-screen film. 
More novelty. If the wide-screen proves anything at all, 
it proves that novelty cannot take the place of well-organ- 
ized film structure nor of expressive images that fill the rec- 
tangle of the screen, regardless of whether the screen be 
standard, double or triple standard in size, round or any 
other shape. Some theorists have indulged in much-ado 
about the wide screen. Inexpressive images in the wide 
screen simply mean that they are several times the size 
they would be on the standard screen. Consequently they 
are several times worse as images. Some years ago, Karl 
Grune made a German film called Waterloo. It was built 
around the life of Bluecher and the defeat of Napoleon. 
In this film there were a number of sequences in which 
the standard screen was split into upper and lower rec- 
tangles, upper and lower triangles and in oblong areas 
side by side. In each of these areas were simultaneously 
and effectively shown the parallel actions of scenes of wide- 
ly separated locales. The material in Billy the Kid was re- 
plete with possibilities for a similar powerful montage of 
parallel action of images appearing at the same time, in 
divisions of the screen. But Vidor had not the necessary 
creative vision to perceive this. 

Excellent opportunities were missed to develop sound 
images 1 in counterpoint to visualize images of scenes in 
parallel action. For instance, when in Billy the Kid Mrs. Mc- 
Sween returned from a fruitless interview with Co. Dud- 
ley, she sat down at her piano while the shooting and the 
flames raged about her. The flames were reflected in the 
surfaces of the piano as she played "The Star Spangled 
Banner" and the strains wafted over the town. Alongside 
the scene of Mrs. McSween playing, there could have 
been a scene of the town as it lay in the canyon. Then, 
following, another scene taken from a different angle 
could have shown Mrs. McSween playing the anthem and 
in the area alongside that scene, flashes of the townsmen 
and of their frightened faces as they sat in their homes 
listening to the sounds of the music and of the shooting; 
flashes of the faces of the hired gunmen in the Murphy 
camp, of Col. Dudley in his tent, his men and cannon. By 
this montage on a split screen, a powerful tension could 
have been built up all the time that "The Star Spangled 
Banner" was being played. That, however, would have 
been too much within the realm of vital experience. 

As subject matter the Saga of Billy the Kid, if treated 
without evasion, should have made an epic film of the 
Southwest during its transition period from the pioneer 
stage to the beginnings of centralized control in the cattle 
business. Its material and characters were admirably adapt- 
ed to the scope of an analytical, image-minded director, for 
the real drama was built around two strong characters, 
Murphy and McSween, who staged one of the bloodiest 
cattle wars of the Southwest. There is irony, too, in the 
circumstance that Murphy had studied for the priesthood 
and McSween for the minutry. In this bitter conflict, 
which is known to have dominated life in Lincoln County, 
New Mexico, during the seventies, Billy the Kid was 
merely an incident, just one more among the numerous 
desperadoes in the most lawless section of the Southwest. 
Historical and social values of the material were eliminated 
to feature a conscienceless young gunman — an evasion of 
experience that made the Kid incredible as a character and 
mere a comic opera outlaw. Players should always be in- 

struments for the director, but in this film, Vidor, like the 
rest of his fellow practitioners in Hollywood, makes no 
use of the film's structural elements to build up that bit- 
ing characterization which could make this period in Amer- 
ican history live for the spectator. There is no emphasis 
upon Murphy and McSween, on the drama in the econom- 
ic and social aspects of their conflict; and the important 
character of Col. Dudley is omitted. Yet, any film pur- 
porting to deal historically and truthfully with the early 
West must show the amazing activities of the officers of 
the army in those days. If American film producers and 
directors insist upon evasion in the treatment of historical 
facts, we need never expect to have any authentic historical 

In Billy the Kid it is clear that if Vidor knew how to in- 
tensively objectify subjective experience through the visual, 
plastic and structural means of the film, he might have built 
a remarkable motion picture. But one cannot interpret the 
subjective without relating it to outward experience. The 
evasion of experience on one hand and the inability to 
cope with the structural demands of the motion picture 
on the other, has made Hollywood the laughing stock 
of the world among those who understand the film's possi 
hilities and necessities. Evasion of experience, combined 
with limitations in creative ability explain the insipidity of 
the American film and the reasons for its diminishing hold 
upon the film-going public in America and in Europe. In 
view of the facts, it's just a swell joke that Vidor and other 
Hollywood film "regisseurs" continue to be called our 
"first" directors! 

Had Vidor ever deserved the rank of a "first" director, 
he would not have issued this condescending statement on 
the little film theatres of France. 

"The foreign producers are more courageous and 
are making more headway than in the past. This 
progress, however, has not been from a solid founda 
tion of sound production methods as was the devel 
opment of the film industry in America . . . There 
are any number of "little theater" movements to be 
encountered, and it is in these houses that the unique 
productions being made abroad are to be found. ] 
saw one in which the entire story was told in close 
ups,-' a daring experiment that is admirable in effort, 
hut scarcely to be considered anything more than 
a very well done novelty . . . These pioneering steps 
are laudable and hold much promise. They are inter' 
esting and worthy of attempt but as earnest com' 
petition to American films they are woefully lack- 
ing . . . They are more intent it seems, upon a cine- 
matic fishing expedition that might net them some- 
thing worthwhile, but in all probability will be quite 
Instead of using his name to give publicity to the ef-i 
forts of the trail blazers and experimenters in the European- 
film movement, so that American audiences and producers! 
might develop a strong impetus in this direction, Vidor 
did precisely what other American practitioners have done 
i.e., he dwelt upon the "superiority" of American films. II 
directors whose names may mean something to the film 
public fail to use their influence with that public toward^ 
the establishment of a film-art, how can the spectator, un 
aided, arrive at these conclusions himself? Had Vidoi 
looked upon the work of the film experimenters of Eu 
rope with the eyes of an analyst and an artist, he woulc 
have discerned that they are intent upon relegating al 
film practices smacking of the conventional film, that th< 





r time 




■ th 

- o| 





- am 

to in 



efforts of European as well as of American film experi' 
menters are certain to doom the false film practices of 
Hollywood. Had the production methods of American film 
studios been as sound as Vidor claimed, he would not 
have been among the few American directors in 1928 who 
publicly criticised the panicky flight to dialog films. With 
all the millions at their disposal American producers and di- 
rectors can point to but a few accidental pictures that con- 
tain at the most touches of intrinsic merit in film struc- 
ture. However, they may live to learn that the "cinematic 

fishing expeditions" of proletarian film groups in Europe 
and America will inevitably produce a film revolution that 
will force American producers to return to the cloak and 
suit business whence they came. 

1 There was no need for sound irr this film. None of the scenes 
were helped by sound or dialogue. Reference to sound images is 
made here only because sound happened to be used. 

2 Ostensibly. Vidor had in mind Dreyer's Joan of Arc, the sharp- 
ness of whose patterns he tried to emulate in several scenes in 
Billy the Kid. The statement quoted appeared in Closeup, Oct. 

Principles of the New World-Cinema 

PART II. The Film as Microcosmos 

Section stressing the cinema as a new instrument of 
human consciousness. As the form of that consciousness 

REVOLUTIONARY film doctrine emphasizes the cine- 
ma as the instrument of perception and domination 
of labor-philosophy and world-meaning: as an instrument 
which has the power to hammer incessantly on certain 
dominants.- In the psychological sphere (analyzing forms, 
manifestations, motivations, reflexes, etc. of behavior), it 
has the power to expose the subtle overtones and nuances 
of outstanding types of a class — for example, the dinosaur, 
the millionaire, the "virtuous,"' self righteous middle-class 
girl, the "humanist" liberal, the American business-man, 
etc. ... In respect of these qualities, the cinema, to the 
spectator, has the character and function of a scalpel. But 
the film-creator simply and scientifically accepts it as the 
instrument of selecting, organizing, (co-ordinating, asso- 
ciating, etc.) the dominant psychic qualities and external 
characteristics and significant overtones (singly and as in- 
terpenetrating image-complexes) of the individual, both as 
an individual and as the manifestation of an entire type 
or group. 

Indisputably, the nature of the cinema is microcosmos. 
This term is advanced unreservedly. I bring to the atten- 
tion and consideration of the American prolet-kino Lenin's 
vigorously defined conception of the cinema as "the micro- 
cosmos of proletarian reality." That is why Lenin repeated- 
ly urged the "natural or non-fictive film" — an injunction 
out of which later developed the wonderful Soviet news- 
reel and Vertov's films of the "kino-cye". They were 
taken "on the spot" — (events, accidents, etc.) However, 
hey have not proved emotionally half so moving or even 
so convincing, as the deliberately fictive dramatic works of 
| Pudovkin, although this is an incidental point. 

The significance of the cinema as microcosmos is great. 
The cinema is the most powerful instrument devised by 
mankind for the expression, in highly concentrated form, 
of the dialectic world-struggle of the classes. 

No other means or agency of expression has one-tenth 
the power of the cinema for creating a consciousness (vis- 
1 ™| ual and audtiory) of the dialectics of world-history in prop- 
er time and space perspective. 

The cinema has the unequalled capacity to present peo- 
ple with not only the perspective, but also the relative di- 


is if 





e tin 
g ste 

: inte 
t col 


tot. m 



mensions, of all previous, world-historical struggles of the 
exploited class against the power-class, and to present these 
perspectives and dimensions in montage of film time and 
film-space, a microcosmos-concentration of world dialectics. 

Such is the significance of the cinema as microcosmos! 

By power of montage! 

By power of time-and-space concentrations and associa- 

Take the cinema Leninistically as the microcosmos of 
world-dialectics. To use an image: It can best be character- 
ized as an inexhaustible field of action- energy, in which 
the montage-dynamic operates like a tractor ploughing the 
field of a Russian "collective," an inexhaustible field of 
effects and of changes (dynamics, motion- variations, etc.) 
. . . Montage-philosophy is the dialectic of this cinematic 

Synthetic montage is the central "switching station" of 
the "mechanism of domination" . . . The possibilities of 
cinematic plasticity and relativity are endless . . . 

The character of the film as microcosmos is the most 
important creative-esthetic consideration of the present 
century. A wholly new, radical approach to creativeness 
is being based in Soviet Russia on this dominant considera- 
tion. It is a deeper and more startling challenge to Western 
bourgeois civilization (to its philosophies, its notions of 
behavior, its misconceptions of human relationships, etc.) 
than even the most violently antagonistic doctrines of 
Marxist-Leninist economics. With its advancement, all 
bourgeois conceptions of esthetics and creativity are being 
forever swept away . . . 

The character of the film as microcosmos necessitates a 
new creator: the scientist-artist laborer, — -the Eisenstein, 
Pudovkin, Dovzhenko artist type. More than that the 
completely dialectic-minded thinker. Thus, the present 
revolution in cinematography, which successfully stamps 
out the disease of Hollywood, marks the beginning of the 
joining, in cinematography, of radical- revolutionary esthet- 
ic philosophy with radical-revolutionary science towards 
the attainment of an ultimate exposition of radical-revolu- 
tionary world-meaning. 

And it is historically inevitable that in the future, in 
the coming Proletarian World- State, no esthetic science, no 
conception of creativeness, will be possible or will bear 
within itself the potentiality of fruition, unless it be rooted 



in dialectic materialism, — in a fully apprehended mater- 
ialistic interpretation of life, history and humanity. 

The character of the film as microcosmos forces a con- 
sideration of the relativity-association of dominant images 
as the technique for the establishment of radical, dominant 
image-ideas, which in themselves hold the key to the phil- 
osophy of the film. This consideration may be non-cate- 
gorically stated: Out of the conjunction of two images, the 
third image, THE RADICAL IMAGE-IDEA (mental), 
emerges. Out of the conjunction (in montage) of many 
image-elements, is created the synthesis of which the final- 
definitive radical image is the essence. 

The art of defining and creating image-ideas, the art of 
hammering image-ideas into the mentality of the specta- 
tor by the persistent ingenious manipulation of aggressive, 
violently emotional montage-forms, can be said to be large- 
ly dependent on the genius of creating synthetic images 
which embrace the cardinal philosophical points of the 
underlying image-idea. 

Before going into the question of synthetic imagery, I 
would like to stress one important, if somewhat incidental 
point. For the eventual success of this type of cinematog- 
raphy — the cinema based on entirely revolutionized radi- 
cal conceptions of esthetics and structure, that not only suc- 
cessfully defies the bourgeois weaknesses of all past esthet- 
ics and all "classically enshrined" notions of art, but even 
indicates how absurd these notions are in their relation to 
absurd forms of society — for this cinema, it is absolutely es- 
sential to have films of passion. The passionate film, that 
is to say, the film of overcharged emotional intensity, vio- 
lent, incisive, psychologically surprising and sustained, can 
alone give adequate expression to the peculiar form of 


action-energy that characterises the cinema. Already w 
have films geared up to a high degree of emotional inten 
aty: Poiemkin (particularly in the massacre-episode), Th 
End of St. Petersburg, (particularly where the worker 
hero, in a frenzy of rage, hurls Lebedoff, the munitions 
capitalist, to the floor), China Express, Storm Over Asu 
The New Babylon, the explosive Ten Days That Shook Th 
World and the bitterly vehement Arsenal. The film c 
vehemence depends on the skillful manipulation of at 
gressive, penetrating montage-methods to achieve the max 
mum 'possible intensification and release of emotion? 
energy in the spectator. The part played here by the prir 
ciples of the conditioned reflex, as an instrument of em( 
tional agitation, is of course colossal. One the purely e. 
thetic side, the simplest and most striking time and spac 
and movement forms have proved useful (through th 
aid of photographers such as Titse, Golovnia, etc.) t 
heighten the excitement of the content and the cutting. I 
these respects, the Russian films, from Eisenstein's Stril 
to Pudovkin's Storm Over Asia, which are based on dee] 
ly thought-out principles of agitation and visceral- mote 
excitation, are not a consummation, but only a beginnin 

The film of passion is the only film which has a right I 
be considered a social film; that is, a passionate expressic 
of the dialectics of historical world-processes. It is the on 
type of film than can adequately meet the demands of ma 
emotional necessities of the present century. 

At the opposite end is the sickly-sweet emasculation ar 
degenerate sentimentalism of the Hollywood "entertai|: 
ment" film (including, perhaps more than anything, the s 
called "dramatic" films of Hollywood), based on a grol 
and perverted falsification of the vital facts of human exu 




ence. But the anti-social tendencies of the Hollywood film 
exemplify a complete antithesis to what the vehement film 
of visceral-motor excitation should try to achieve. 

Even the subtle film, that deals with complicated so- 
cial conditions without the revolution-dominant as a basis 
of its imagery, even this film can possess a kind of inten- 
sive vehemence, mounted in the overtonal implications ol 
gross social and economic inequalities. Passion, as the final 
degree of intensity of montage-violence, of explosiveness, 
should be the standard "temperature" of the social film. 
With regard to its seriousness, the "temperature" of the 
social film, — its "heat" and the vehemence of its expres- 
sion of the underlying image-idea — should be a constant 
irradiation, a constant discharge of the kinetic energy of 
its fast- moving images. And the films enjoyed by the "es- 
capists" and esthetes" of the Western world, films of "re- 
lease" and "escape", praised to the skies by such people 
as J. G. Fletcher, G. Seldes, Rotha cj? Co. and other intel- 
lectual hoodlums, have of course no place whatever in the 
mass-cinema of the Proletarian Revolution . 

As regards the philosophical end or "purpose" of the 
image-play of radical-revolutionary cinematography, this 
end, the image-philosophy of the image-whole, is expressed 
in the outstanding synthetic images themselves. The mon- 
tage-methods of analysis (differentiation and objectifica- 
tion) and of synthesis (integration, association, etc) are 
likewise the methods used in the construction of such syn- 
thetic images to endow them with the broadest variations 
and possibilities, as key-words of film language. 


A number of elementary considerations must be ad- 
vanced prior to discussing synthetic imagery. Several of 
these were already stated in categorical form (see Princi- 
ples of the New World Cinema, Part I, especially section on 
Principles of the Image-Idea). Although previously men- 
tioned, however, they can be accepted here as a fresh 
phase of the montage of image-relationships. 

1 . Every film based on a correct montage-form is 
the expression of its dominant, radical image-idea. 
In this connection, it can be added that the persistence 
with which the film-creator builds up and significant- 
ly defines (through the film) the dominant, radical 
image-idea basically underlying the film, determines 
the degree of esthetic integrity and the spiritual-in- 
tellectual strength of the film. 

The definition of montage (Part I, Principles of 
the New World-Cinema) as "THE COMPLETION 
for this aspect of montage-ideology and cannot be 
too strongly insisted upon. 

2. The sum and substance of Eisenstein overtone 
conceptions can be expressed in the terminology of 
the present dialectic as follows: The image-idea (of 
the sequence, of the episode, etc.) is as much the 
mathematical resultant of overtonal cumulations aris- 
ing out of the conflict between the single images 
themselves (which collectively form the image-idea) 
as it is the product of these images in a purely mon- 
tage sense. 

3. In the same sense, taking the ultimate impres- 
sion of the film from the point of view of the spec- 
tator (the receiving brain), the radical dominant 
image-idea underlying the film is the mathematical 

resultant of the sum total of the overtonal cumulations 
of all the images of the film, as well as it is the pro- 
duct of the image-ideas of the sequences, episodes, 

4. Every image of the film has the possibility 
of realizing its significance in the total image-struc- 
ture in three ways: 

(a) As a purely descriptive agent, llluotrat- 
ing an event. In other words, as a unit in the 
development of a continuity of action (of any 
happening whatsoever, actual or imaginary) ; 

(b) As the symbol of the deeper image- 
idea that is expressed by the descriptive action, 
of which this particular image is a part (the 
symbol). Or, in conjunction with this same 
possibility, the image may be used (recurrently) 
as the symbol of any other action whatsoever 
to which its relationship is purely and definitely 
symbolical and not a continuity-relationship in 
the sense of immediate joining to preceding and 
succeeding montage-pieces. 

(c) Because of its duel employment, both as 
description and as symbol, each image has the 
possibility of being, bes'des the symbol of an 
image-idea, the fundamental root-image of this 

Obviously, in the most advanced types of cinema, the 
majority of images operate simultaneously in both a des- 
criptive and a symbolical capacity. This is the richest, 
fullest and moct startling method of expression now at the 
disposal of cinematography. 

In connection with the above resume of the possibilities 
of the ways in which images can be utilised, consider the 
following fragment of an original continuity, which illus- 
trates many of the points of this essay: 


(Note: Owing to lack of space, the complete montage cannot 
be rendered in the following continuity. Only the most important 
elements, illustrating the principle of root-images and association, 
are presented.) 

SCENE: A park. A square, A street-car line. Steps 

leading up to the main entrance of a twenty or 
thirty-story skyscraper — the City Hall. A 

SITUATION: Crowds. Working masses, working-class sympa- 
thizers, bystanders, business-men. "saintly" 
priests, jeerers . . . 
Agitators on soap-boxes. 
Cossack police on proud horse. 
Workers with banners, slogans, etc., etc. 
Hired thugs, plainclothesmen, etc., paired off 
with foot-cops. 

A street-car held up by the crowd. 
A street-cleaner shoveling gutter-garbage on a 
street opposite the park. 

Chief of Police and staff watching from the steps 
of the City Hall. The Chief is tailored in sty- 
lish, immaculate plain clothes. 
The police attack on workers begins. 


Police on steps. 

Composition-grouping of Chief and several sur- 
rounding members of the staff in uniform and 
heavily armed. 

The Chief gives a direction to those standing 
about him. 

They hurry off, out of frame. 
The Chief stands alone — glowing with the 
pride of a general. 





(Focus-timing here in accord with finally work- 
ed-out montage-tempo.) 


2. CUT TO CLOSE-UP OF mounted Cos- 
sack-police. (Taken from below). A burly cop. 
He raises his mob-stick and brings it down. 

3. CUT TO CLOSE-UP OF an undersized 
Jewish worker. (Taken from above, opposite 
angle.) He starts to run. (MOVEMENT ON 
THE CUT). The mob-stick descends crush- 
ingly on his head. (Note movement — associa- 
tion of shots 2 and 3, establishing rhythm- 
graph of entire episode). 

4. CLOSE SHOT OF a modishly attired 
"modern" priest with a "sweet and saintly" face, 
standing in the projected shadow of a cross 
before a church-building. He crosses himself 
and pronounces a "blessing" . . . (MOVE- 

5. Men, women and boys with banners run- 
ning en masse towards sidewalk. The throngs 
of spectators on the curb form a solid wall. 

group of workers with banners, running. The 
shadow of a mounted policeman races over 

onlookers, mostly American business-type. They 
wear straw hats. They are neatly dressed. They 
have cynical and contemptuous sneers on their 

8. CLOSER SHOT OF same group. A young 
enterprising business-man, characteristic of his 
class, makes a "wise-crack" to his companion. 
Then he cups his hands, as if at a baseball game, 
and calls out at a passing cop (not visible in this 
take) . . . 

TITLE: "Kill the damned Reds, Mike!" 

9. CLOSE UP OF the business-man taking his 
hands from his mouth and grinning good-hu- 
moredly" . . . FLASH CUT. 

("Mike") running past. He half-turns, as he 
hears his friend call. Laughs: a brutal, ruth- 
lessly sadistic physiognomy. Waves his mob- 
stick. Runs on . . . 

11. MOVING CAMERA SHOT (taken from 
above) OF group of workers with banners, 
placards and papers. Running. The shadow of 
the mounted policeman deepens over the crowd, 
with which it races in pace. PAN CUT. 


FLASH CLOSE-UP OF a woman, scream- 

13. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF the woman, hurled 
to the gutter. 

14. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF the hoofs of a 
police-horse, prancing on the fallen woman's 

15. ANGLE CLOSE-UP OF mounted cop's 
face, bending low into lens. He curses and 
yanks his horse into frame. 

16. MEDIUM CLOSE-UP (horizontal plane) 
OF a worker iv Mng with a group behind the 
prancing horse . . . He sees . . . and starts . . 
He stands stock-still, frozen with horror! 

17. ANGLE SHOT (extreme perspective)] 
OF police-horse, TAKEN FROM BELOW 
(the woman's viewpoint), rising on the two 
hind-legs . . . 
The fore-legs rise before the camera and tower 
above it . . . 
The horse attempts a momentary balance on his 
hind-legs, and then . . . 

The fore-legs suddenly come down. CUT O 

OF the body of the unconscious woman, as the 
fore-legs of the horse pitch upon her. MOVE-j 

er. He yells. 
Out of his pocket he jerks a piece of lead-pipe 
and hurls it with all his might at the mounted 

20. CLOSE SHOT OF mounted Cossack,, 
from behind. The hurled chunk of lead strikes 
him at the base of the neck. Jumping, he 
wheels about in his saddle . . . 


(a) The mounted cop tottering in his sad! 
die and falling. CUT ON THE MOVE- 

(b) FLASH CLOSE-UP OF Police Chie: 
yeiling in dismay. (Special effect close-up) 

(c) "TRICK" SHOT OF the City Hal 
building appearing to sway, tremble and 
fall . . . 

(d) The mounted cop fallen to the street. 

mounted police wheeling their horses about in 
regimented movement. Into action! 

(taken from slight angle above) OF the work' 
er fleeing across the square. In a frenzy of 
haste . . . Pushing man, woman and child out! 
of his way . . . Pushing through groups and 
crowds . . . Breaking into the crowd on the 1 


24. FLASH SHOT OF the four mounted po- 
lice sweeping fiercely across the square. 

25. CLOSE SHOT OF two burly cops rnanl 
handling protesting worker near a fire-pump. 
A closely packed crowd forms a close semi' 
circle on the side-walk. 

26. CLOSE UP OF the brutal face of one 

27. MEDIUM CLOSE SHOT OF the scuffle. 
Suddenly with a quick, clever move, one of the 
cops, stepping back and "ducking" low, trips 
the fighting worker, who starts to sprawl and 
topple backward. The worker's loss of balance 
is completed and his fall to the pavement is 




made a "knock-out" by a well-delivered blow 
in the face from the other cop. 

28. CLOSE UP OF the horrified and indig- 
nant face of typical American "liberal". The 
liberal cri..* cut sharply: 

TITLE: "Shame! Shame! You bullies! Such 
needless brutality! Why don't you employ de- 
cent methods?" 

29. FLASH CLOSE UP OF the indignant 
face of the liberal. 

30. The worker sinks in a heap before the 
lens. The cops bend down and start to lift him 

the worker who threw the piece of lead pipe, 
racing INTO CAMERA. The four pursuing 
HIS HEELS! The fleeing worker runs close 
into immediate focus-foreground and then 
swerves suddenly to one side, OUT OF 


32. MEDIUM CLOSE SHOT OF street-car 
conductor and motorman on motorman's plat- 
form, consulting. The motorman manifests his 
impatience. The conductor gestures to "go 
ahead", and walks back into the car. The mo- 
torman puts on his big white glove and turns 
to the switch. 

33. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF fare-register of 
street-car ... A fare is registered. 

34. SHARP CLOSE-UP. A mob-stick brutal- 
ly crashes a worker's head. CUT ON THE 

35. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF fare-register. An- 
other fare is registered. 

36. SHARP CLOSE-UP. A mob-stick crush- 
es another worker's head. CUT ON THE 

37. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF fare-register. An- 
other fare is registered. 

38. SHARP CLOSE-UP. A police fist smash- 
es a worker's face. CUT ON THE MOVE- 

39. SHARP CLOSE-UP OF fare-register. An- 
other fare is registered. 

40. SHARP CLOSE-UP. A police club is 
brought crushingly down on another worker's 

41. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF fare register. An- 
other fare is registered. 

42. SHARP CLOSE-UP. A mob-stick across 
a worker's face. FLASH CUT. 

43. FLASH CLOSE-UP OF fare-register. An- 
other fare is registered. 

44. A fist savagely wields a mob-stick. FLASH 


ES OF the register clicking successive fare. 

(b) FLASH CLOSE SHOT OF priest ra- 
diating blessings and fatherly love . . , 

Chief on City Hall steps, his hand to his 
brow, like a sunshield. 

City Hall building (Tentative suggestion: 
camera movement montage). 

(e) CLOSE-UP OF fare-register, register- 
ing at greatly accelerated speed. Faster . . . 
faster .... 

(f) Water flooding into a street sewer. 

46. CLOSE-UP OF the motorman's foot, 
stamping the bell . . . 

47. CLOSE-UP OF the motorman's hand 
slowly beginning to turn the motorman's switch. 

the four mounted police suddenly checking his 
horse before the camera. 

Levelling his revolver, he fires. 


CLOSE-UP OF the fare-register. 

Another fare is registered. 



50. CLOSE-UP (from above) of the track- 
fender of the street-car, in slow movement. The 
body of the shot worker pitches on to the fend- 
er, sprawled across it. His arm and head lie 
at the edge, almost on the track. His eyes 
stare upward. into the down-looking lens . . . 


The Chief of Police on the steps before the 
City Hall building. 


52. ANGLE SHOT OF motorman. (Taken 
from fender, looking up). 

He gestures excitedly with his gloved hand, 
and yells to the dead worker to get himself 
off the fender. 

53. MEDIUM SHOT OF one of the four 
mounted police, motioning violently to the 
motorman. He brings his horse close to the car. 

TITLE: "Ride that body out of the district! 
About three blocks down!" 

54. MEDIUM CLOSE-UP OF the motorman. 
Nods to the cop and salutes in a friendly way. 

•j 1 !. CLOSE-UP OF the motorman' switch, the 
gloved hand turns . . . 

down from motorman's window) OF the dead 
worker stretched out on the car-fender. The 
fender in movement. 

57. "FLANK" SHOT OF the front of the 
car with four mounted police riding parallel on 
either side. 

58. CLOSE SHOT OF the wheels of the 
street-car, legs and feet dashing parallel. As the 
car gains in movement, the CAMERA, MOV- 
ING PARALLEL, slightly widens its focus and 
gets in a mass of feet, legs and finally (in full 
view) parallel-running bodies — men, women 
and children. 



59. ANGLE CLOSE-UP OF the fender, (tak- 
en from opposite side), bearing the dead work- 


Yelling, threatening, angry workers rush in a 
huge mass up the track, and from all sides and 
streets in the near distance, in an increasing 
throng, into the advancing street-car. 

61. FROM TRACK-LEVEL: (At a distance) 
The advancing street-car with the dead body. 
Like a gigantic Machine-Moloch. 

62. CLOSE-UP OF the motorman's switch, 
being pushed to the "full" pole. 

63. Squadron of mounted police marching 
horse horizontally, in a flank movement into 
the mass of advancing workers . . . 

64. A street-cleaner pushing his shovel along 
the curb. 

65. CLOSE-UP OF street-cleaner's shovel. 

66. CLOSE-UP OF street-car fender with dead 

OF regimented line of mounted police sweep- 
ing into mass and clearing the track. 

68. CLOSE-UP OF the street-cleaner's shovel 
sweeping up the refuse along the curb-line. 

69. CLOSE-UP OF motorman's switch, at 
the "full" pole. 

70. CLOSE-UP OF street-car fender, faster . .. 

71. — 72. — 73. — etc . . . Acceleration, image- 
exaggeration, etc. of the foregoing, reinforced 
by timed recurrence of the dominant root- 
i.mages, etc., until the total montage-structure 
reaches its synthetic static point, namely: 
the City Hall tower, with the figure of the Po- 
lice Chief standing small and solitary on the 
steps. The shadow of the cross overspreads 
the tower . . . 

Manifestly, this represents an advanced montage-form, 
the full significance of which cannot be altogether appre- 
ciated when it is separated from the total structure of the 
film. In the above continuity, not only was there a vast 
condensation of the various montage-elements (which in 
the original bring the number of scenes up to more than 
150), but the parallel sound-montage was completely omit- 
ted. Montage students can clearly recognize the possibil- 
ities and position of sound-image counterpoint in such a 
dynamic conception as the foregoing. 

The second half of Part II of Principles of the New 
World-Cinema will be published in the fourth number of 
Experimental Cinema. Following it, in the fifth number, 
will appear Part III, which deals with The Bases of Reflexes 
and Associations. 

*Entire contents copyright by Seymour Stern, 1931. 

1 Further investigation and analysis of the film as microcosmos 
will be made in later papers especially devoted to this revolutionary 
phase of cine-dialectics. 

2 "Dominants" and "overtones," Eisenstein terms, used by 
him in The Fourth Dimensions in the Kino, April 1930 of Close- 
Up, as well as in articles on *"he same phase in German periodicals. 

By "dominant" he means the radically predominant characteristic, 
and cites, as an example, the "sex appeal" of the beautiful Amer- 

ican heroine . . . By "overtone," he means the "additional appeals 
or attraction-stimulants," and in the same example names the 
artificially constructed "stimulation-provokers" which create the 
"overtonal complex" around the dominant, — in this case, items 
such as the material of the heroine's dress, the degree of light and 
shade used in photographing, polished finger-nails, etc., etc. . . . 
These form the "overtonal complex." To which could also be 
added, almost endlessly, for the benefit of revolutionary cinema- 
tography, which analyzes and exposes all such overtonal artifices 
of the bourgeoisie, stimulation-provokers like the conscious, delib- 
erate pose of innocent virtue of the American middle-class girl and 
the whole stock of attraction-effects which constitute the complex 
the Americans call "appearance": shrewdly calculated manner of 
bearing, tailoring of all kinds (of this it can actually be said there 
is a definite "Anglo" appearance-complex!), "suave" mannerism, 
"twinkling" eyes, "loving" gestures, parlor-cultivated voice, "cute- 
ness," the entire battery of effects of American "propaganda-pos- 
ing" (of the women, especially in American military films), "sweet- 
ness and light" (Seventh Heaven formula) and so on. 

In using the expressions "overtone" and "overtonal cumulation" 
in this article, I mean, specifically, the overtones (of a single 
dominant) and the overtonal cumulations (through a complete 
series of images) of just these "additional appeals" which exhibit 
psychological traits and notions of a social class and which con- 
stitute a "complex" around a "central stimulation" or nucleus. 
Reference here is not made to the overtone-montage method as a 
systematic device of construction. That consideration will be dealt 
with in a later section. 


Elsewhere in this issue there appears an article by Samuel Brody 
entitled "On A Theory of 'Sources'." This article has an interesting 
history, involving- as it does the "loss" of our New York correspondent, 
attacks upon us in other publications and the making of an active enemy. 

Originally, "On A Theory of 'Sources' " was submitted to Close Up 
as p. letter criticizing certain reactionary ideas expressed in H. A. Potam- 
kin's monthly American correspondence for that magazine. The criticism 
was neither personal nor in any sense malicious. The sole intention of 
its author was to open a discussion on certain debatable points set forth 
by Potamkin. This was considered all the more urgent as Potamkin 
at the time consistently persisted in asserting the correctness of the 
"source" idea. The editors of Cose Up refused to print the letter, stating 
that to print an attack on an "accredited foreign correspondent is not in 
accord with English journalistic ethics." A copy of the article was then 
sent to the editors of Experimental Cinema who submitted it to Potam- 
kin with a request for a reply to be printed in the magazine as a discus- 
sion. He refused. This refusal appeared at the time to have no bearing 
whatsoever on Potamkin's relations with Experimental Cinema nor was 
there the least intimation that it would affect his status as the magazine's 
New York correspondent. 

About seven months later Close Up printed a slanderous attack on our 
group by Potamkin which for unprovoked, savage vituperation has no 
equal. "Novices," "mystified mystics," "truncated boobs." were but 
a few of the select terms used to describe us. Our Hollywood corre- 
spondent, Seymour Stern, was "frenzied." Braver-Mann was called down 
for having changed the spelling of his name and for having dared to 
"wasteiully repeat" certain sound ideas expounded by Munsterberg twelve 
years ago. We were accused of having "trekked to Hollywood — the land 
of frustrated esthetes ..." To explain his former association with 
Experimental Cinema, he wrote: "1 have been the New York correspon- 
dent for it, out of personal sympathy for its editors ..." And finally, 
our "aspirations emit a malodor which is even worse than the stench 
of the west coast marshes." Etc. Etc. 

This sudden effusion on the part of one so closely associated with u = 
in our work came like lightning out of a blue sky. It remains a mystery 
to us until this very day. And apparently this is not the end of Potam- 
kin's campaign against us. We have been notified by him that the New 
Freeman will soon print an article on movie criticism in which we are 
further "criticized." 

The question is: What are Potamkin's intentions and where is he 
travelling to? How, for instance, are we to explain a recent attack by 
him on none other than comrade Leon Moussinac, the greatest figure in 
the international workers film movement? "Leon Moussinac has not 
realized his full value to the social understanding of the cinema by neg- 
lecting to scrutinize his attitude for a set of values." To those who have 
followed the writings and activities of Moussinac for many years such 
statements will seem fantastically malicious. No less malicious, in fact 
than his puerile castigatior. of Experimental Cinema and those of us who 
are straining every tendon to create a theoretical and practical basis for 
a workers film movement in America. What a-e we to make of the fact 
that Potamkin refuses to repudiate or answer "On A Theory of 'Sources' " 
in our columns when we have invited him to do so? Why the intrigue, 
the slander, the venom? 

Experimental Cinema will live and grow stronger. It will grow with 
the strengthening of the revolutionary labor movement in America with 
which its lot has been cast. We will correct the errors of inexperience 
in our struggle against the reactionary film and for workers' movies in 
America. We are pledged to work hand in hand with those who see in 
the cinema a class weapon which must be exposed and employed by the 
working class. The foundation for the carrying out of our program has 
already been laid. The present stage of the class struggle calls for an 
unequivocal stand on the field of battle. It is daily becoming more and 
more a question of — for or against? 

Harry Alan Potamkin, where do you stand? 



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The Position of the Soviet Cinema 


The Economic Duel of The Cinema 

IN the Soviet Union, as in every other country in the 
world, the cinema today reflects- the general economic 

The absolute independence of the Soviet cinema from 
the great electrical trusts is due to the fact that the So- 
cialist state possesses its own economic life, completely de- 
tached (insofar as the re 1 ations of international exchang.--; 
will permit) ficm the process of industrial and commer- 
cial development in capitalist countries. In this connection 
it is necessary to recall that the cinema of th; world (with 
the exception of the Soviet cinema) finds itself more and 
more in the hands of a few giant combines. Not so long 
ago there were some fifteen of these trusts. Today RCA 
Photophone, Western Electric, Allgemeine Electrizitats 
Gesellschaft, and the Siemens Company have in princi- 
ple divided among themselves th? motion picture hege- 
mony of the capitalist world. This division is at best tem- 
porary. There is already talk of new mergers. 

If the present negotiations are successful we shall wit- 
ness a striking verification, a typical illustration of the 
marxist theory of the concentration of capital in the hands 
of a handful of people. At the same time, the motion pic- 
ture is of all industries the one which most strikingly serves 
what we might call the imperialism of thought. 

There are two great stages to be noted in the evolu- 
tion of the Soviet cinema. Firstly, in 1925, the founding 

At the conclusion of the Russo-Polish war in 1923, the 
Soviet Union undertook the production of films aiming 
to carry the revolutionary idea to the four corners of the 
vast empire by means of a living and striking representa- 
tion of the met essential oppositions in the struggle of 
two classes. Both the art of the motion picture and the 
theatre had received special attention from the Soviet gov- 
ernment in the early days of the revolutionary struggles. 
Those were the days when the great Meyerhold covered 
Russia with his "theatrical shock troops," which were of- 
ten substitutes for the revolutionary newspapers, then in- 
accessible to the illiterate peasantry. 

The founding of SOVKINO was the first important 
step in the direction of the concentration and centraliza- 
tion of the cinema in the hands of the Soviet state. The 
SOVKINO of 1925 foresaw in its statutes an annual plan 
of production proportionate to its budgetary allotment. 

The second important date of the Soviet cinema's pro- 
gress towards concentration is 1929. 

The powers of SOVKINO are increased. It achieves ab- 
solute unity of direction by effectively centralizing al the 
cinematographic organisms of the Union. 

Before 1929 the number of these cinematographic or- 
ganisms was rather small in the various Republics of the 
Soviet Union. The coexistence of important studios such 
as the WUFKU in Ukraina and certain organizations in 
federated republics could proceed without very serious in- 

However, the Five Year Plan, gigantic program of in- 

dustnal and cultural achievements, was soon to resuit 
in the springing up in many places of new motion pic- 
ture centers. The unity which governs the political econ- 
omy of the Soviet Union required an absolute concentra- 
tion of the "leviers de commande." 

Competition being non-existent in the Soviet Union (at 
least as conceived in capitalist countries), it became neces- 
sary for budgetary purposes, to avoid the danger of possi- 
ble duplication and overlapping of functions. Moreover, 
the same Five- Year-Plan that created new cinema cen- 
ters is centralizing these same centers in the hands of 

Here, in the official decree's own terms, is the extent 
of this centralization: 

"As a result of the new centralizing reorganiza- 
tion of the Soviet cinema industry, the optico-me- 
chanical trust (camera factories), the photo-chemical 
trust (film, plate and sensitized paper factories), and 
the new trust for general production, distribution 
and exhibition of films shall be grouped into a single 

The centralization of the production and distribution of 
negative film and cameras will permit the development of 
all branches of the industry on a larger scale than hereto- 
fore. It will also make for a broader and better satisfac- 
tion of the needs of distant populations in the great locali- 

A particularly important fact in the matter of the gen- 
eral qualitative level of production is the creation of "ar- 
tktico-political Soviets in establishments of cinematographic 

The main tasks of these artistic Soviets are: The exami- 
nation and appreciation of production programs and the 
control of the work; criticism of finished films or of those 
in the process of production; relations with the Press; pre- 
paration of reports to the central Soviet on the artistic as 
well as political aspects of films', etc., etc. 

The Soviet state monopoly of the film has often been 
attacked by outsiders. 

Here is an example, and, I think, a decisive proof of its 
efficacy for a country on the road to socialization. 

I have in mind the introduction of the sound film in 
Europe. The great electrical trusts mentioned above have 
made of the sonorization of films a formidable instrument 
of speculation. The alleged purpose of the American pro- 
ducts was "to act as a palliative to the public's weariness." 
Thrown on the market in considerable quantities, these 
films provoked a formidable crisis in European movie 

It is only thru its state monopoly that the Soviet Union 
has been able to avoid the disaster created in capitalist 
countries by the financial policies of the American sound 
and talk film. This was possible only in a country where 
a methodical and rational progression prevails in the econ- 
omic sphere. 

Soviet Union versus United States 

In the USSR the role of the cinema is, above all, to por- 




tray life, or to defend, to exhalt or to criticize an ideolo- 
gy. It is impossible, unless perhaps as an exception, to find 
in the Soviet Union so'called "pure" or abstract cinema, 
in which the picture has been created for the picture. 
This type of film no longer leaves the secrecy of the labora- 

The cinema, in the Soviet Union, is a concept of reali' 
ty. Reality is richer and more feverish there than anywhere. 
The Revolution is a permanent and inexhaustible source of 
inspiration. It will remain so until socialism shall have 
triumphed definitely and its aims been fully realized. 

In Russia, therefore, there is more social lyricism than 
elswhere, a new idea, more constant than in the capitalist 
cinema and than in the American cinema in particular. 
One of the great privileges of the Soviet cinema is the ab- 
sence of all diplomacy, in the expression of the revo'ution- 
ary ideology. 

We have seen that the logical evolution of capitalism 
on one hand and the growth of Socialism on the other, 
creates two diametrically opposed economic forms of the 
cinema: America and USSR. Need it be said that it is at 
the same time a merciless struggle of two opposed ideolo- 
gies, of two basically different art principles. 

In his "Scenes of Future Life" George Duhamel has 
spoken in terms of lyrical despair but with somewhat ro- 
mantic sentimentality of his disgust with the American 
cinema. His alarm is, however, only too well justified 
in the presence of the formidably organized besottedness 
of the current cinema, and that not only in the United 

In periods of decadence art becomes purely formal, 
emaciated. Its radiation, its prolongation into the mind of 
the masses becomes nil. Production, even refined and in- 
teresting in certain aspects — an interest of details and 
purely relative — testifies as a whole to an absence of any 
real direction. Art is not truly mastered; at every step 
it finds itself arrested by contingencies of various orders. 
Nor is it master. That is the case today in the cinema 
of capitalist countries. 

In the same connection it may be said that the judge- 
ments (good or bad) of Occidental critics of the Soviet 
cinema have no value whatever. Whether they praise or 
attack, they express a viewpoint exclusively esthetic or 
nationalistic. It is less the artistic than the social quality 
which impregnates it which must interest one in the Sov- 
iet fims. That is logical. 

We can, if necessary, easily find in the USSR twenty 
directors whose pure esthetic value, — leaving out of con- 
sideration all questions of a political order — is equal, if not 
superior to most of the Occidental directors. Moreover, 
it is undeniable that there are in Russia as elsewhere, — - 
neither more nor less — bad films. The very assumption 
of an infallible production should send shivers down one's 
back. But all this is, for the moment, of but secondary 
importance, I think. 

To reasonably judge Soviet cinematic production, as 
well, in fact, as any form of present Russian activity, it is 
necessary above all to remember that the USSR (as long 
as it shall have to maintain its dictatorship) remains — 
is in a state of revolution. 

The Soviet Cinema must not be considered as a static 
phenomenon, a realized ideal, for it is, in its present stage, 
a passing phenomenon. 

Obviously, the bourgeois democrat, staid and conserva- 
tive, and who sees in parliamentary institutions the eternal 

symbol of his own stability, will find it difficult to grasp 

But for a Russian communist the form of the cinema, 
like the political form, is not definitive. It will reflect its 
transitory requirements and its substance will be primary 
and govern its form until such time as the Revolution shall 
have achieved its fundamental tasks. 

* * * 

Marxist doctrine teaches that science can indicate the 
authentic tendencies of the future. In the light of this I 
say: that the silent cinema is incomplete, that the sound 
film is incomplete, and likewise the talking and stereo- 
scopic films. All these cinematographic forms have nothing 
definitive. Their role is to be stages in the progress of 
science towards one of the first perhaps definitive formu- 
las of the cinema: television and consequently telecinema. 

The arrival of television is not far off, I believe. In 
less than five years there will be television stations almost 
everywhere. Already now, there are many in Germany 
and in the United States. The delay which we forsee in 
their universal diffusion is dependent only upon an econ- 
omic opportunity: Too much capital has been invested in 
sound apparatus; almost every movie house in the world 
has been "wired." 

Not before money so invested shall have brought its 
owners lOOCKr in returns can there be reason to figure on 
a sufficiently large number of television stations being 
built by Americans and Germans, who alone at the pres- 
ent time dispose of the material means to do so. 

Ah! If the Soviet Union possessed the technical equip- 
ment and especially the indispensable financial resources 
necessary, television would be an accomplished fact. Sci- 
ence has solved the problem, and the question of an econ- 
omic opportunity for eventual fruitful speculation does 
not exist in the USSR. Unfortunately, the future of tele- 
cinema depends on the interests of business, — or of the 
gigantic American trusts. 

The Five-Year-Plan, conceived and adopted at a time 
when it was not possible to foresee the realization, evident- 
ly precocious, of cinema from great distances, has assigned 
(the word is not exaggerated) formidables sums of money 
to assure cinematographic circuits everywhere on the vast 
territory of the Union. All actual indications point to the 
fact that by the time these important circuits will be com- 
pleted, the perfection of television and telecinema shall have 
been accomplished. Thus considerable and draining finan- 
cial sacrifices will perhaps have been out of proportion to 
their final result. 

At any rate, telecinema is an invention of which it may 
be said that it is on the level of a country like the USSR 
For its absolute cohesion, — a requirement sine qua non 
of an efficacious application of television, — is much more 
realizable there than in countries where cutthroat competi 
tion makes unification impossible. State monopoly of tele 
cinema in a country marching towards Socialism repre- 
sents the propaganda instrument of our dreams. 

The telecinema, — at last! — will mean the end of artistic 
sects, of clans, of esoteric chapels. Thanks to it, we shall 
witness, on the ideological level, the open struggle of two 
classes. On the one hand it will be the most powerful 
mean; that the bourgeoisie will possess to attempt to avoid 
the Revolution. For the Socialist State it will be the in 
strument used, among other things, to pass from the transi- 
tion period it is now in, into a definitive and Socialist po 








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Workers Films in New York Soviet Photography 

TWENTY-FOUR years ago the first American motion- 
picture studio was opened at 11 East Fourteenth 
Street in New York by the Mutoscope and Biograph Com- 
pany. It served as one of the foundations in the building up 
of a vast machine to supply the American masses with 
cheap escape from their misery, from the drabness of long 
days in the shops, factories and mines. 'The movies 
could make their dreams come true," admits Terry Ram- 
saye, a bourgeois film historian. An artificial dream-world 
to supply workers with the necessary cultural minimum and 
at the same time build up one of capitalism's most pros- 
perous industries. And at number 1 1 were born the 
"stars," indispensable cogs in the machine: Griffith, Pick- 
ford, Sennett, the Gishes, Sweet, etc. 

1930 — A group of class-conscious workers organise the 
Workers Film and Photo League only two doors away from 
the old Biograph brownstone house. It is 7 East Four- 
teenth Street. Twenty-four years separate 7 from 11*. The 
bourgeoisie has developed the screen into a more efficient 
weapon of reactionary propaganda and decadent "enter- 
tainment." It is no longer Fourteenth Street. It is now 
Hollywood and Long Island. No longer the timid flicker 
of the silent film. Sound. Talk. Color. Grandeur. Stereos- 

But there has been a proletarian revolution in Russia. 
The Soviet Union has created a cinema that has taught us 
the fraud and the vulgarity of film productions in our 
country. The Soviet cinema is the cinema of a class that 
has achieved its historical task in conquering power. Its 
films are class films, just as the American film is that of a 
class in power — a reactionary class doomed to destruction. 

The American workers are learning from their Soviet 
brothers that the film must be used as a weapon in the 
class struggle. Their own misery and oppression is driv- 
ing them away from a screen that offers "Love Parades'" 
and "Movietone Follies" while their children stand in 
breadlines and their wages are cut. 

The movie must become our weapon. It must spread 
the message of struggle against unemployment, starvation 
and police clubbings. It must reflect the workers 1 lives and 

This task has been assumed by the Workers Film and 
Photo League, the first organization of its kind in America. 
It summarizes its program as follows: 

To struggle against and expose the reactionary film. 

To produce documentary films reflecting the lives and 
struggles of the American workers. 

To spread and popularize the great artistic and revolu- 
tionary Soviet productions. 

The countries of Western Europe, America and Japan have 
only been able during the last year or two to acquaint themselves, 
through VOKS exhibitions with the new formations, tendencies 
and special features characterising and crystallizing Soviet photog- 

Until recently photography abroad was represented by 
the best known Soviet photographers, regularly exhibiting in 
salons and exhibitions, where their work was highly praised for 
its formal and technical triumphs. In the U.S.S.R. itself, however, 
the work of these photographers was not so popular. Their methods 
had been studied and their knowledge made use of, but the social 
life and cultural demands of the masses in a country building 
socialism, demanded something more. 

The events and facts of the Revolution provided Soviet pho- 
tography with new, fascinating and rich documental material. 
Social-economic conditions and cultural-political circumstanes and 
the extraordinary effective value of this material stimulated pho- 
tographic thought to the mastery of this new subject matter, hence 
he search for new forms determined by the new theme. 

The styles of the old masters — the portrait, lyrical landscape, 
still lives, and exhibition studies — lost their hold on the imagina- 
tion of the public. These styles became obsolete through the 
inertia of dust traditions with roots in the formal methods of studio 

The easel picture or individual studio painting underwent utter 
catastrophe after the revolution, losing many of its best repre- 
sentatives to photography and the cinema, because of its inade- 
quacy to satisfy modern demands. The static nature of art pho- 
tography, aping the art of painting, the calm balance of the 
elements of composition, soft tonal transference, lyrical diffused 
contours and misty light and shade, the stereotyped "picturesque," 
static perspectives and construction — all this was not in accord 
with the new world outlook. Lite brought new material and 
dictated a new form. The tempestuous new life drew the art 
photographer also in its whirlpool, away from mannered exhibition 
studies, narrow, studio work. Soviet actuality itself provided the 
themes in infinite variety, for Soviet photography. 

The Revolution heiped photography to emancipate itself from 
the art of painting earlier and more thoroughly in the Soviet 
Union,, than in other countries and photography i.n the USSR no 
longer depends slavishly upon the emulation of art, but has 
already found its own methods as an independent art. 

The dynamics and pace of modern life in capitalist countries 
have already created, formally, an artistic revolution in the sphere 
of photography in other countries too. The legitimate cannons for 
painting have already been rejected by many of the most prom- 
inent European photographers, but the isolation of the individual 
artist in Western Europe leads him to merely formal investigations 
and abstract photography. 

The richness, the exuberance of Soviet social life provide the 
Soviet photographer with vital subjects and in working upon the 
subject matter, struggling to attain the utmost expressiveness, he 
photographer is stimulated towards the search for new, adequate 
forms and solutions for these problems. Thus documentary or 
"chronicle" photography is at the present stage of photographic 
evolution in the USSR, the most characteristic form in which 
vital social experience and penetrating photographic experiment 



> iha! 
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i avoid 

ist r» 

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the LEFT declares war on the sentimental despair of 
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the LEFT indicts the literary NEPmen and fashion- 
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the LEFT sets itself in vigorous opposition to the 
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the LEFT maintains that the day of "art for art's 
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and asocial defeatists, is over. LEFT insists that 
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the LEFT will publish short stories, poetry, photo- 
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This step has become necessary and desirable through the popu- 
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Close Up as a quarterly are the editors enabled to cope with 
these developments intrinsically and fundamentally. As films — - 
through speech — are becoming more and more national, in pro- 
portion the function of an international journal such as Close Up 
is complicated. To lemain internationally relevant, and of value, 
it mus't be adopted to the exigencies of the present and the future. 
Each number will contain concentrated study, either of films of 
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Editorial Statement 1 

A Statement by Theodore Dreiser 3 

Eisenstein's Film on Mexico 5 

The Principles of Film Form 7 

"Que Viva Mexico!" 13 

Let's Organize an Experimental Studio for Sound Films! 1 7 
Hollywood: Sales Agent of American Imperialism . .18 

Cine- Analysis 21 

A Few Remarks on the Elements of Cine-Language . 24 

Hollywood Films and the Working Class .... 27 

Toward a Workers' Cinema in England 28 

Technical Brilliance or Ideology? 29 

Ozep's Film, "The Murderer Karamazov" .... 30 

Bulletin i»o. 1 of the Mexican Cine Club .... 34 

llya Zacharovitch Trauberg 37 

A Letter from Moscow 38 

Highway 66 40 

The Production of Working Class Films 42 

London Cinema Notes 42 

The Development of Sound in U. S. S. R 43 

Paris Letter 44 

Hollywood and Montage 47 

Hollywood Bulletin 54 

Hollywood Sees "The Road to Life" 60 

Notes from Moscow 61 

The New Soviet Film Program 61 



a native Mexican by more than 400 years of 
descent, was Eisenstein's Mexican assistant 
throughout the production of Que Viva Mexico! 
He served as interpreter for Eisenstein among 
the various tribes of Mexican-Indians, as guide 
into the innermost corners of the land, and as 
adviser on Mexican folklore and history. He is 
General Secretary of the Mexican Cine Club and 
has recently published in the leading Mexican 
magazine, Contemporaneos, translations of 
Eisenstein's essays on film-art. 


needs no introduction to the readers of Experi- 
mental Cinema. His films to date are: Workers. 
Stride!, The Battleship ?oteml(in. Ten Days 
That Shook, the World ( October), Old and 
New, and a two-reel experimental sound-film, 
Romance Scntimentale. The last three pictures 
were produced by Eisenstein in collaboration 
with his co-director, G. V. Alexandrov, and all 
of them were photographed by Eduard Tisse. 
Que Viva Mexico! is an independent film, hav- 
ing no connection with the Mexican, Soviet or 
American film-industries. It was privately 
financed by a group of California liberals who 
admire Eisenstein's work. 

MORRIS H E L P R I N , a young writer 
and film-student, went to Mexico several months 
ago for the purpose of observing Eisenstein at 
work. Previously connected with the publicity 
department of United Artists Studios in Holly- 

BELA BALAZS, an internationally 
known Hungarian film-theorist and scenarist, is 
the author of a book originally published in 
German, Der Stchtbare Mensch (The Invisible 
Man), a treatise on the general esthetics of the 
cinema. He recently published another book, 
The Spirit of the Film, and is now working in 
the U.S.S.R. on sound-films. 


a young Cuban, has written a number of essays 
on the economy and politics of Cuba. Some of 
these essays have appeared in various issues of 
the foremost Cuban intellectual journal, La 
Re vista de la Habana. He has also made sev- 
eral translations of stories and books by John 
Reed. Valdes-Rodriguez is now studying the 
cinema and is General Secretary of the Cine 
Club of Cuba. 

M. KAUFMAN is a prominent Soviet 
film-director. He has made a number of experi- 
mental films on the strength of which he evolved 
the system of montage used in his first feature 
film. Spring. He wrote an essay on The Evolu- 
tion of the Soviet Cinema, published in Left 
Mo. 1. 


Born in Russia, took an active part in the Rus- 
sian liberation movement before, during and 
after the Revolution of 1905; at the age of 
eighteen was exiled to Siberia; escaped from 
the famous "Czar's Prison" in Akatui, on the 
border of Manchuria; studied in Italy and the 
Paris Sorbonne; edited Russian dailies in U.S.A.; 
lately has been devoting himself to studies in 
the field of musical theory; author of Frag- 
ments from the Russian Suite. While instructing 
S. M. Eisenstein and G. V. Alexandrov in the 
theory of music, became interested in the prob- 
lems of the cinema; beginning with this issue 
on the editorial board of Experimental Cinema. 

SOMERSET LOGAN, writer living 
in Hollywood, has contributed frequently to 
The New Republic, The Nation, etc. 


formerly of the Merseyside Workers' Film So- 
ciety, is now in Liverpool producing a docu- 
mentary film of the dock-workers' condition in 
that city. 


young American born and brought up in Ken- 
tucky. Last year, when Eisenstein was in Holly- 
wood, he bummed across the country for the 
sole purpose of meeting him. Has just re- 
turned from a trip to the Harlan-Bell coal fields 
in Eastern Kentucky, where, he writes, 10,000 
striking miners are fighting against capitalist 

student and actor, has contributed technical 
essays to previous numbers of Experimental 
Cinema. Played the part of the captured Ger- 
man war-ace in Dawn Patrol, and several im- 
portant roles in M-G-M foreign versions. 

N . S O L E W , Moscow correspondent for 
Experimental Cinema, worked last year in the 
foreign department of the Inform-Bureau of 
Soyouskino. Now on the staff of The Moscow 
News and at the same time studying cinema- 
tography in Sovkino studios. 

LEWIS JACOBS, in New York, is 
working on the montage of a feature-length 
documentary film for The Workers' Film and 
Photo League. Made two short experimental 
films in 1930. 

RALPH BOND is one of the organizers 
of a proletarian film-group in London. He pro- 
duced, for this group, a celebrated documentary- 
film called 1931. The picture was shown 
throughout England and was acclaimed by the 
workers as a vivid depiction of their misery 
and struggle. 


head of the Amkino Office in New York City. 

G. L. GEORGE, a French newspaper 
man, is a contributor to Du Cinema, La Revue 
des Vivants, La Courte Paille, and other Euro- 
pean magazines. Recognized in Europe as one 
of the foremost authorities on Soviet cinema. 

Cover design by Victor Mall 


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EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA is an advanced Ameri- 
can film magazine established to counteract the reac- 
tionary political, psychological and conventional formal- 
istic tendencies of the capitalist film industry. 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA covers all the basic forms 
and activities of the cinema, considering film-art as one 
of the most powerful ideological weapons in the struggle 
for the emancipation of the working classes and op- 
pressed nationalities. 


i. Against the existing monopoly of film-art by 

2. Against the subjugation of creative artistic 
work to the interests and conventional dog- 
mas of the dominant moneyed class 

3. Against the suppression from the screen of 
the most vital and burning social problems 
and facts of modern life. 


1. To make possible in the United States the 
production of artistic films that will reveal 
the American scene as it is, without disguis- 
ing, as the case may be, its brutalities, in- 
equalities and sharp class-division 

2. To encourage and stimulate the proletarian 
film-movement throughout the Western 

3. To counteract the coarse commercial spirit 
and purpose of capitalist films 

4. To render accessible to film-students lmpou- 
tant theoretical and technical writings on 
film-problems, with special emphasis on the 
theoretical and practical work now being 
carried on by the film-workers in the Soviet 
Union and independent groups of cinema- 
tographers in other countries. 

While popularizing such works as outstanding mani- 
festations of a rising new culture, not based on profit as 
the motive, EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA will consider 
bourgeois films insofar as they contain the elements of 
real life and insofar as they may be of use in helping 
film-students and film-workers to formulate a richer 
conception of the problems of cinematography in 

EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA hopes by its example to 
stimulate a new spirit in the American theatre and all 
allied arts as part of the general international movement 
against capitalist ideology and commercialized esthetics. 

EDITED BY: Seymour Stern, Lewis Jacobs, Alexander Brailovsky, David Piatt, Barnet G. Braver-Mann. 

ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Neil Brant, Sam Brody, Harry Carlisle, Christel Gang, A. C. Jensen, Werner Klingler, Agustin Aragon 
Leiva, George W. Lighton, Somerset Logan, Phil Mason, L. Moussinac, Lou Sackin, Karel Santar, Conrad Seiler, J. M. Valdes- 

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10 HE E D I I U R S ! I am pleased to send you this short 
article. The purpose of your magazine, it seems to me, is very worth- 
while, and I hope it will have tangible results. 

I thoroughly believe in the policy of 
movies on the labor movement to be shown 
specifically to an audience desiring them. 
One of the paramount needs is the special- 
ized motion picture for particular audiences. 
As it is today, mass-production in the 
movies, as in other industries, is lowering the 
standards. Every person must be dragged 
down to witness the same inane, common- 
place, and totally inartistic pictures. 

I believe that independent efforts such 
as this should be made to further movies 
dealing with the great historical struggle of 
labor, its dramatic developments recently in 
Russia, and with its reaction on the ideas of 
world labor at large. The man who fights 
for labor should be portrayed as just to his 
fellow-workers and hence striving for the 
common good. If an interested group which 
has the laborer's welfare at heart does not 
pursue this, it will not be accomplished. 
Certainly Big Business Hollywood, with its 
frenzy for money and sex, or even capital- 

ism, which runs Hollywood, will never do 
anything for the worker. 

Furthermore, Hollywood enjoys the sup- 
port of the United States government in the 
making of military films to further a capital- 
ism which takes all it can from the laborer. 

Great pictures of the class struggle de- 
serve encouragement. Americans should 
witness them and hence understand the idea 
of class vs. class. But no, this is not allowed 
in the United States. Instead, boycott! 
"Mother," the film from Gorki's master- 
piece, a novel by the same name, has already 
been banned here, and such film-master- 
pieces as "Storm Over Asia" and "The End 
of St. Petersburg," by Pudovkin, have been 
only partially released, or abridged. Such 
boycotts and bans should be resisted and 
any law prohibiting the showing of these 
films should be protested in the one way 
people have of showing their disfavor of a 
certain statute — by breaking it. These great 
labor movements must reach the laborer by 
way of the films. 


A Film by S. M. Eisenstein, G. V. Alexandrov and Eduard Tisse, produced in 
Mexico 1931-32. S. M. Eisenstein Collective Productions. 

"The film is a poem of a sociological character. Rather an interpretative essay on 
Mexican evolution." — Agustin Aragon Leiva. 



Subject of the Film 

Projecting the concrete into the abstract, a greater 
generalization: the subject of the film had to be a 
selection of the fundamental elements of the Mexican 

Therefore, it deals: 

with all our historical and prehistorical periods, 

with our main geographical sections that have 

remarkably conditioned collective life, 

and with all influences that are foreign. 

So, the subject of the film is 

the whole Mexico. Past, present and future. 
As ages in Mexico are not in a vertical sequence, 
but in a horizontal development, spread out like an 
unusual fan. 
Time of the Action 

Being ideal, the construction, considered as a whole 
time, is dissolved in a combination of epochs. But on 
quite a few occasions it becomes definite. 
Structure of the Film 

Like a symphony, in which different movements 
are unified in spirit and form through the expression 
of the same IDEA of a superior order. 

The cinematographic melodies have their own coun- 
terpoint and every one requires a different harmoniza- 

In this fashion there are as many rhythms, graphic 
compositions and photographies, and finally, montages, 
as there are parts in the film. 

Spontaneity, or nature in itself — 

Man with nature 

Man with man 
and the emphasis of the conflict between the two 
principal geographical sections of the country — the 
tropics and the high lands, where air is subtle as the 
breath of a blythe spirit and life is hard. 

Each one producing different cultures, habits, types, 
problems and struggles. 

But both of them the same in the final result pro- 
duced by revolution, through which the Mexican peo- 
ple has striven to build up its collective unity — and 
still is striving. 

The film is a poem of a sociological character. Rather 
an interpretative essay on Mexican evolution. 

By its deep significance and form, I consider it a 
new type of genre in cinematography, with no ante- 
cedents, and achieving perfection at once. Also a film 
very difficult to surpass and even to imitate. 
The elements described 

Eisenstein uses about three thousand different 

all distinctive and important types of Indians, 



Europeanized and Americanized Mexicans, 

genuine costumes and multifarious combina- 
tions of them with background, illuminations and 
faces . . . 

architecture — primitive, Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, 

colonial Spanish at the periods corresponding to 
three hundred years . . . 

all tropical landscapes on both coasts, so com- 
bined as to look just like a tropic splendid beyond lit- 
erary description and never seen on the screen before. 

the desert, the sacred snow-peaked mountains, 

woods, rivers and the two oceans, 

animals of every kind, especially monkeys, 

the plants that symbolize human struggle. So, 
he uses: 

palm trees of about twenty types, 

the Maguey plant in the most plastic variety, 

the Henaquen plant, 

the virile cactus (organs) 

every one correlated to the group-drama it con- 


ritual dances 


skeletons, the very counterpoint of the play when 
combined with: 


Besides this: 

Predominance of women, or matriarchate; 

the dominion of men, 


And an infinite variety of combinations of the 
above-listed elements. 

In this way Eisenstein has practically stolen from 
the Mexican nation all her secrets, dreams and feelings 
accumulated during five thousand years. 

But all this looks very monumental. The interest- 
ing fact to be noticed lies in the choice of materials. 
Eisenstein has selected only the genuine, the pure, the 
refined, the generical, because he has a wonderful 
taste. So he rejects the exotic, which has been the pas- 
sion of all tourists and superficial writers who have 
visited Mexico in the last hundred years. 

Eisenstein has proven to be the greatest bandit of our 

He deserves capital punishment. We should burn 
him at the stake! 

If we don't do it, we should at least leave him to 
the rage of the legion of his imitators and followers 
who are going to find out that he sucked up every- 
thing and left nothing to their craving for the exotic. 
Some Details 

He shows actual primitive life as a paradise, and 

* Agustin Aragon Leiva was special assistant to Eisenstein on 
the production, serving in the capacity of guide, interpreter 
and adviser on Mexican folklore and history. The ab<>> c 
interpretation of the film has been authorized by Eisenstein. 


this can be verified by anyone at Tehuantepec, for 

And just after this delightful impression he shows 
the contrast of the hard life of the high plateaus, so 
near to the skies, where beauty endures, but there is 
no abundance and pain dominates. 

We are sad, tragedy beats our emotion; we are suf- 
fering. Then, just like in Beethoven's symphonies, the 
scherzo comes. 

There is joy, and external overadorned beauty, 

gayety, fiesta, celebrations, love. 

We are happy, we feel adoration toward the 
magnificence of life. 

Then . . humor . . irony . . sarcasm . . and we get 
back to reality 

Tragedy stills . . 

Revolution is on the wheel . . 

Here, the Greek conception of the theatrical, — 
but the chorus are desert steppes, calcinated mountains, 
the sound of machine-guns. We get to despair. 
Finale . . . The suffering of men upon Earth is not 
without an aim or a positive result. We return to hap- 
piness, an ideal happiness, that we wish for and that 
maybe we shall never see. But it exists. The Mexican 
revolution has to lead Mexicans to a place where they 
can rest in peace, working and fighting for the new 

We see that in this film Eisenstein displays every 
kind of emotion: the religious, the mystic, the solemn, 
the dramatic and the melodramatic, the frivolous, the 
tragic, the humorous and the ironical, the sarcastic. 
But all is shaped in lyrical moulds. The sensual ap- 
peal of his film is astonishingly great. 

We must use this mysterious word to designate the 
profound significances that involve some parts of the 

Eisenstein looks for collective expression and we 

cannot find these in contemporary art. Primitive men- 
tality, primitive life, call our attention to these col- 
lective expressions. Because in the corresponding art, 
every trace, each detail, conveys a transcendental col- 
lective meaning. Subjective art, or so-called "art," imi- 
tates this achievement only in external appearances. 
But nothing is left for the fetishistic significance that 
is transmissable and understandable for everybody. 

Eisenstein has realized this in a starding way and 
we must look through his whole picture for this inner 
significance. I think that only a few will get it. Because 
symbolism of this kind is not detectable at first sight. 
For instance, there is a sharp connection between the 
thing portrayed in the maguey episode and the shape 
of this plant. Both relate to the predominance of men 
in the corresponding society group. And the whole 
composition follows the indications of this shape. 

This is why Eisenstein sometimes looks to me as if 
he were thousands of years old I 

I think that Eisenstein has brought bad luck to my 
country. We Mexicans are going to live eternally 
ashamed of our sins against ourselves. We had not 
realized how great and profound is our tradition, our 
life, our beauty. We were looking for cheap importa- 
tions of the exotic. Despite the fact that we had a legion 
of heroes of our own discovery. But they were Mexi- 
cans and got immersed in the whole panorama and 
at the same time sank into oblivion. Now Eisenstein has 
signaled a road, but we feel too poor, feeble and dis- 
couraged to follow his steps. For many years the Mex- 
ican land shall be dominated by intellectual sterility. 
Probably we'll wake up when the film of Eisenstein 
shall be only a memory of the past. 

For he has practically stolen all the beauty of our 

Mexico City, November 7, 1931. 



According to Marx and Engels 

The dialectic System is only the conscious repro- 
duction of the dialectic flow (Existence) 
of the external events of the world. 


The projection of the dialectic system of things 
-into the mind- 
-into abstract shapes- 
-into thoughts- 
yields dialectic thought-methods — dialectic ma- 
terialism PHILOSOPHY 

And similarly: 

The projection of the same system of things 

-into concrete shapes- 

-into fbrmjs- 

yields ART 

The basis of this philosophy is the dynamic compre- 
hension of things: 

Being — as a constant Becoming 

from the interaction of two contrasting opposites. 

Synthesis, arising 

from the opposition between Thesis and Antithesis. 

In the same degree the dynamic comprehension of 

things is basic for the correct understanding of Art 

and all Art-forms. 

In the realm of Art this dialectic principle of dynamics 

incarnates itself in 

as the fundamental basic principle of the substance of 

every Art-work and every Art-form. 

For Art is always Conflict 

i. In accordance with its social function. 

2. In accordance with its substance. 

3. In accordance with its methodology. 

1. In accordance with its social function — 

The task of art is — the bringing to light of the 
conflicts of the Existing. By the awakening of 
conflicts in the observer. The emotional forging 
of a correct intellectual concept by the dynamic 
collision of the contrasted passions. 
The formation thus of correct perception. 

2. In accordance with its substance — 

In its substance it consists of a conflict between 
Natural Existence and Creative Impulse. Between 
Organic Inertia and Purposive Initiative. 
Hypertrophy of the purposive impulse — the principle 
of rational logic — causes the Art to freeze to a mathe- 
matical technicalism. 

(A landscape becomes a blue-print, Saint Sebas- 
tian becomes an anatomical map.) 
Hypertrophy of organic naturalism — organic logic — 
drowns the Art in formlessness. 

(Malevitch — becomes Kaulbach 
Archipenko — a waxworks show.) 


The limit of organic form 

(the passive Existence-principle) is NATURE. 
The limit of rational form 

(the active Production-principle) is INDUSTRY. 


On the point of intersection between 
Nature and Industry stands ART. 

1. The Logic of Organic form 


2. The Logic of Rational form 
Yields in collision the 

Dialectic of Art-fgjm 
The interaction of the two engenders and conditions 

(Not only in the space-time sense — but also in 
the purely conceptual field. I regard the appearance 
of new concepts and precepts in the conflict between 
usual appearance and special representation as exacdy 
a dynamic-dynamisation of the perception — a dynami- 
sation of the "traditional apprehension" into a new 

The degree of distance determines the intensity of the 

(See, for example, in Music the concept of inter- 
val. Here there can be instances where the distance 
of separation is so wide that it leads to a shattering 
by breakage of the singleness of the Art-apprehension. 
The incapacity to be heard of certain Intervals.) 
The form of this dynamics in space and time is Expres- 
The tension-stages — are Rhythm. 

This is true of every Art-form, indeed yet more, for 
every form of expression. 

Similar is the conflict in Human Expression, between 
conditioned and unconditioned reflexes. 

And exactly similarly is the same true in every field, 
in so far as it can be comprehended as an Art: thus, 
for example, Logical Thought also, considered as an 
Art, shows the same dynamic mechanics: 

"The intellectual life of a Plato or a Dante becomes 
in high degree conditioned and nourished by his pleas- 
ure in the simple beauty of the rhythmic relation 
between rule and and example, between kind and in- 
dividual." (G. Wallas, "The Great Society.") 

So also in other fields. E.g., in speech, where the 
sap liveliness and dynamism arise from the irregularity 
of the detail in relation to the rule of the system as a 

In contrast is the sterility of expression of the artifi- 
cial, altogether regular languages, as, for example, 

From the same principle is derived the whole charm 
of poetry, the rhythm of which arises as a conflict be- 
tween the metric measure and the distribution of ac- 
cents, confusing this measure. 

Even a formally static appearance is capable of com- 
prehension as a dynamic function dialectically, as is 
imaged in the sage words of Goethe, that: 
"Architecture is frozen music." 

To a comprehension of this type we shall return 

And just as, in the case of a single ideology (a monis- 
tic viewpoint) the whole, as well as the last detail, 
must be penetrated by the one single principle — 

So there ranges itself with the Conflict of Social 
Conditionality, and with the Conflict of Substance 
Existing, the same Conflict-principle as keystone of the 
Methodology of Art. As foundation principle of the 
rhythm yet to be created and the appearing of the Art- 
3. In accordance with its methodology — 

Here we shall consider the general Art-problem in 
the individual example of its highest form — Film form. 

The Shot and Montage — are the basic elements of 
the Film. 


The Soviet film has established it as the nerve of the 

To determine the nature of Montage is to solve the 
specific problem of the Film. 

The film-makers of old, and also the theoretically 
quite antiquated Lev Kuleshov, considered Montage 
as a means of bringing something before the specta- 
tor, in describing the something, by sticking the sep- 
arate shots one upon the other like building-blocks. 

The movement in each shot and the consequent 
length of the pieces is then to be considered as rhythm. 

A conception entirely false. 

The determination of a given object solely in accord- 
ance with the nature of its external flow; the valuation 
of the mechanical sticking-together process as a prin- 

We must not describe such a length-relationship as 

From it there results a measure as opposite to 
rhythm, properly considered, as the mechanical-metric 
Mensendiek system is opposite to the organic rhythmic 
Bode school in matters of bodily expression. 

According to this definition, shared as a theoretician 
even by Pudovkin, Montage is the means of unrolling 
an idea on the shot separate pieces (The Epic Prin- 

According to my opinion, however, Montage is not 
an idea recounted by pieces following each other, but 
an idea that arises in the collision of two pieces inde- 
pendent of one another. (The Dynamic Principle.) 

("Epic" and "Dynamic" in the sense of methodology 
of form, not of content or action.) 

As in Japanese hieroglyphics, where two independ- 
ent ideographical signs ("Shots"), placed in juxtaposi- 
tion, explode to a new concept. 

Thus: Eye -f- Ear = To weep 

Door -f- Ear = To eavesdrop 
Child -j- Mouth = To cry 
Mouth -j- Dog = To bark 
Mouth -j- Birds = To sing 
Knife -j- Heart = Sorrow 
(Abel R£musat: "Recherches sur l'origine de la 
formation de l'ecriture chinoise.") 


A sophism? Certainly not! 

For here we seek to define the whole nature of 
the principal part and spirit of the film from its tech- 
nical (optical) basis. 

We know that the phenomenon of movement in 
the Film resided in the fact that two motionless images 
of a moving body following one another in juxtaposi- 
tion, blend into each other after sequential showing in 

This vulgar description of what occurs as a blend- 
ing has its share of responsibility for the vulgar com- 
prehension of the nature of Montage quoted above. 
Let us examine more exactly the course of the 
phenomenon we are discussing, how it really occurs, 
and draw conclusion from it. 

Two shot immobilities next to each other result 
in the arising of a concept of movement. 

Is this accurate? Pictorially-phraseologically yes. 
But mechanically the process is otherwise. 
For, in fact, each sequential element is shot not 
next to the other, but on top of the other. 
FOR: The movement-percent, (or feeling) arises 
in the process of the superposition on the re- 
ceived impression of the first position of an 
object of the becoming-visible new position of 
the object. 

Thus, by the way, arises the phenomenon 
of spacial depth, as optical superposition of 
two surfaces in stereoscopy. 
From the superposition of two measures of 
the same dimension always arises a new, 
higher dimension. 

As in the case of stereoscopy the superposi- 
tion of two not identical two-dimensionalities 
results in stereoscopic three-dimensionality. 
In another field: 

A concrete word (a designation) set by the 
side of a concrete word yields an abstract con- 

As in Japanese, (see above), when a material 
ideogram set in juxtaposition to a material 
ideogram connotes a transcendental result (a 

The contoural incongruence of the first pic- 
ture, already penetrated into consciousness, 
and the now actually being accepted second 
picture — the conflict of the two — engenders 
the movement-feeling, the percept of the flow 
of a movement. 

The degree of incongruence conditions the 
impression-intensity, conditions the tension, 
which, in conjunction with that following, 
becomes the real element of the peculiar 
Here we have, temporally, what we see arise spacially 
on a graphic or painted surface. 

In what consists the dynamic effect of a painting? 
The eye follows the direction of an element. Re- 
ceives an impression, which then collides with that 
derived from following the direction of a second ele- 
ment. The conflict of these directions builds the dyna- 
mic effect in the apprehension of the whole. 

I. It may be purely linear: Fernand Leger. 

Martin Hernandez, 21-year-old Mexican-Indian peasant, native of Apam, the principal 

character in the second story of "Que Viva Mexico!", episode entitled "Maguey." 

Photo >>v Jimenez. Courtesy S. M. Eisenstein Collective Productions. 

Mexican women mourning over the coffin of the dead boy. From th" "Maguey" episode. 

The Mayan Indians— 
a funeral ceremony 

II. It may be "anectdotal." The secret of the 
marvelous mobility of the figures of Daumier and Lau- 
trec resides in the fact that the various anatomical parts 
of the body are represented in spacial circumstances 
(positions) temporally various. 

(see, e. g., Lautrec's "Miss Cecy Loftus.") 
Logically developing the position A of the 
foot, one builds a body position A correspond- 
ing to it. But the body is represented from 
knee up already in position A -)- a. A cine- 
matic effect is here already provided for the 
motionless picture. From hips to shoulders 
is already A -f- a + a. The figure seems alive 
and kicking.) 

III. Between I and II lies primitive Italian Futur- 

"The Man with Six Legs in 6 Positions." (Be- 
tween I and II. For II obtains its effects with 
retention of natural unity and anatomical inte- 
grity. I, on the other hand, with pure elementary 
elements, but III, although repudiating natural- 
ism, has not yet pressed forward to the abstract.) 

IV. It may also be of ideographic kind. Thus 
the pregnant characterisation of a Sharaku (Japan 
— 1 8th Century). The secret of his utmostly raf- 
fine' strength of expression lies in the anatomical 
and spacial disproportion of the parts. (II might 
be termed temporal disproportion). This is dis- 
cussed by Julius Kurth ("Sharaku"). He de- 
scribes the portrait of an actor, comparing it with 
a mask: 

" While the mask has been constructed 

according to fairly accurate anatomical pro- 
portions, the proportions of the portrait are 
simply impossible. The space between the 
eyes comprises a width that makes mock of 
all good sense. The nose is almost twice the 
as long, in relation to the eyes, as any normal 
nose would dare to be, the chin stands in no 

sort of relation to the mouth 

"The same observation may be made in all 
the large heads of Sharaku. That the master 
was unaware that all these proportions are 
false is, of course, out of the question. He has 
repudiated normality with full awareness, 
and, while the drawing of the separate parts 
depends on severely concentrated naturalism, 
their proportions have been subordinated to 
considerations purely ideal." (Pp. 80, 81.) 

The spacial extension of the relative size of one de- 
tail in correspondence with another, and the conse- 
quent collision between the proportions designed by 
the artist for that purpose — result in the characterisa- 
tion of — the comment upon — the represented person. 

Finally — Colour. A colour tone imparts to our 
vision a given rhythm of vibration. (This is not to be 
taken figuratively, but actually physiologically, for col- 
ours are distinguished from one another by the num- 
ber of their vibrations). 

The adjacent colour tone is in another rate of 

The counterpoint (conflict) of the two — the re- 
ceived and the now supplanting vibration rates — yields 
the dynamism of the apprehension of Colour-play. 

Hence we have only to make a step from visual 
vibrations to acoustic and we stand in the field of 

From the domain of the spacial-visual. 

To the domain of the temporal-visual. 

Here the same law obtains. For counterpoint is, 
in Music, not only the composition-form, but para- 
moundy the factor basic for every possibility of tone 
perception and differentiation. 

It may almost be said that here, in every case we 
have cited, we have seen in force the same Principle 
of Comparison, making possible for us, always and in 
every field, definition and perception. 

In the fluid image (the Film) we have, so to 
speak, the synthesis of these two counterpoints. From 
the image the spacial and from music — the temporal. 
In the Film, and characterising it, occurs what we may 
describe as: 


The application of this expression to the film 
opens up several straight lines to the problem, indica- 
tive of a sort of Film-Grammar. 

In fact, a syntax of Film externals, in w4iich the 
visual counterpoint conditions a whole new system of 
external forms. And for all this: 
As Basic Preliminaries: 

The Shot is not an Element of Montage. .. 
The Shot is a Montage Cell (or Molecule) 
In this sentence is the leap of the dualistic division in 

From: Tide and Shot 

And: Shot and Montage. 

Instead of this they should be considered dialect- 
ically as three various form phases — of one single ex- 
pressive tas\. 

With single characteristics, conditioning the sin- 
gleness of their construction laws. 
Interdependence of the three: 

A conflict within a thesis (abstract idea) — 

1. formulates itself in the dialectics of the 

2. projects itself spacially in the interior con- 
flict of the Shot. 

3. explodes with increasing intensity in the 
inter-shot Conflict-Montage. 

In full analogy, once more, to human-psychological 


This is — Conflict of Motive. Comprehensible equally 

in three phases: 

1. Pure verbal utterance. Without intonation. 
Speech expression. 

2. Gesticulatory (mimic-intonational) expres- 

Projection of the conflict onto the whole 
externally active body-system of man. 
"Gesture" and "Sound-gesture" (Intona- 

3. Projection of the conflict into the spacial 
field. With the increasing intensity, the 
zig-zag of mimic expression expands, in 
the same distortion formula, into the sur- 
rounding space. An expressive zig-zag, 
arising from the space-cleavage of the man 
moving himself in space. 


Herein lies the basis for an entirely new comprehen- 
sion of the problem. 

Film-form. As example of Conflicts one may instance: 
i. Graphic Conflict 

2. Conflict of Planes 

3. Conflict of Volumes 

4. Space Conflict 

5. Lighting Conflict 

6. Tempo Conflict, etc., etc. 

(Here each is listed by its principle-feature, its domi- 
nant. Of course, it is understood that they occur chiefly 
as complexes, dovetailing into one another. As with 
Shots, so, correcdy, with Montage.) 

For transition to Montage, it suffices for any ex- 
ample to divide into two independent primary pieces. 
How far the conception of Conflict leads in deal- 
ing with Film-forms is indicated by the following fur- 
ther examples: 

7. Conflict between a Material and its Angle 
(attained by special distortion through ca- 
mera position). 

8. Conflict between a Material and its Spac- 
ial Nature (attained by optical distortion 
through the lens). 

9. Conflict between a Process and its Tem- 
poral Nature (attained by slow-motion and 

and finally 

10. Conflict between the whole Optical Com- 
plex and some quite other sphere. 

Thus does Conflict between Optical and Acous- 
tical impulses produce: 

which is capable of being realized as 

Visual — Sound Counterpoint 
The formulating and consideration of Film ap- 
pearance as forms of Conflict yield the first possibility 
of devising a single system of visual dramaturgy cov- 
ering all general detail cases of the problem. 

Of devising a dramaturgy of visual Film-form as 
precise as the existing precise dramaturgy of Film- 

Zurich, i/\\/i<) 

Translation by Ivor Montagu in Hollywood, Calif. 





Eisenstein in Mexico 

"Que Viva Mexico!" 

It is the first film made in the Western hemisphere 
to assume the mantle of maturity. The furthest step 
yet from the idiocies of corn-fed Hollywood. It turns 
its tail up at the banal; thumbs its nose at the benign. 
It is pictorial rhetoric of such vital force that it thun- 
ders and roars. Yet it contains every aspect of the 
popular cinema. 


That day at Los Remedios, when we walked over 
the hills in search of a suitable location, served as an 
indication of Eisenstein's preciseness, his exciting de- 
mands that his subject be even in quality. All Mexico 
around us was "beautiful enough to swoon in." Here 
was no prettiness of the postcardy cinema, none of 
your oak-panelled pictures that need but sprinklings 
of chemical brilliants to turn them into revolting chro- 
mos. The top of a mountain and an ancient aqueduct 
jutting at a seven-thousand foot height into a stilled 
canopy of swan-white clouds. You could set your 
camera down at almost any spot and grind. And have 
a beautiful scenic. 

But the Russian, followed hastily by Tisse, his 
cameraman; Aragon, a young Mexican intellectual 
who serves as a guide, interpreter and go-between, a 
camera boy and myself, trailed by five peons who 
were the day's actors at a peso each, led a frantic 
chase to find THE spot. Following which were at 
least a dozen of THE spots. 

Eisenstein was introduced to Mexico by his Mexi- 
can friend, the film-student, Agustin Aragon Leiva, 
whose forebears took root 400 years ago and whose love 
for his country is as intense as Eisenstein's love for the 
cinema. Through this young Mexican and other friends 
of the Russian, Mexico was thrown practically into 
Eisenstein's lap. There is hardly anything in the coun- 
try not at his disposal. 

Toiling in the sun from early in the morning, through 
the noon that is characteristically Mexican with its 
burning heat, until the landscape began to cool, we 
dragged Christ from the church to lie, pathetically 
unaware of Eisenstein, staring at the blue bowl that 
is Heaven, while a machine recorded its image on 
revolving celluloid. Poor Father who art not in Eisen- 
stein's heaven, hallowed be thy name now, for who 
knows how you will be used eventually in this record 
of living Mexico! 

A fine Christ the largest statue was. Brought from 
Spain with blood painted beautifully down his sides 
and a slot, like openings into which one inserts nickels, 
carefully chiselled in the thinnish chest. And the beard, 
fine pictorially, stylized into a Grecian combing with 
decorative loops. The whole, sprinkled with the dusts 
of decades that have filtered beneath the crevices of 

the glass covering, lay on purple silk in the open 
courtyard, while the populace of Los Remedios gather- 
ed in appropriate awe — awe and reverence in spite of 
the boy who ordinarily pulled the bell ropes in the 
steeple, but who now insisted on passing wind against 
a nearby tombstone and who mingled his derisive 
laughter with the reverberations of his gaseous intes- 

And the padre, inducing a member of his flock to 
shed a pearly tear on the statue as the camera ground 
on. And the two litde girls who sold votive candles 
who were recruited for the scene but who fled at the 
last minute, showing up later on the roof, beshawled 
and still timid before this Frankenstein monster. 

"Perhaps," says the padre, "we could have some 
enlarged pictures of this for the members of my par- 

And Eisenstein assenting a too-ready "yes." 

No food for us during the day's work except a bot- 
tle of warm beer that was as quickly spat out at the 

No rest while Eisenstein sees light in the skies. After 
eleven months of it he is as active in his picture- 
making as during the first days. What significance 
fatigue, when this will be the first film made on the 
American Continent worth preserving for its sociolo- 
gical import? What are the dangers of jungle, moun- 
tain, or sea, when you coincidentally explore human 

How can men like Carleton Beales, Stuart Chase 
and the like, live and travel in a country for months, 
years, without sensing what the Russian grasped in 
so short a while? How can writers who have lived 
decades in Mexico publish learned and boring works 
on the country without so much as nodding in the 
direction of certain Mexican fundamentals? Chase re- 
gurgitates a literary catalogue that tells about an iso- 
lated community, hardly representative of Mexico, 
which, because its bandstand is like a bandstand of 
another township, is labelled the "Middletown" of 
Mexico. He wonders naively about silk stockings, 
radios and autos. Beales' connection with Mexican 
officialdom would never permit an undistorted view 
of conditions as they exist. 

Yet Eisenstein walks in and senses the basic force 
that motivates Mexican life and that will eventually 
be the prompting means of securing freedom. He has 
recognized the part that woman plays in the social 
and economic life of the country and around this has 
constructed his film. 

As an admirer of the work of Rivera, the Diego 
Rivera who is now accepting fabulous sums for paint- 
ing frescoes in America, his cinematic work was first 
influenced by that painter's representations. The fiesta, 




the flowers, the color and the action were of prime 
importance in the early stages of filmization, but one 
wonders, after hearing of the change, whether or not 
Eisenstein's film will not more closely resemble the 
lower-keyed work of Orozco whose sympathies are 
more clearly defined, less prettified with paint, and 
hardly sentimental journeys in line. 

Eisenstein, the newcomer, the enthusiast, has tried 
to make the most of a beauty and a glory that are 
rarely matched elsewhere on the face of the globe. As 
his work progressed his story developed and he made 
the discovery that served as a thread upon which he 
has hung his episodes. 

This discovery, namely, Eisenstein's recognition of 
the importance of woman's position in that country 
as in no other in the world, converted his film from 
a dimensionalized fresco to the presentation of a socio- 
logical problem as old itself as Mexico and as import- 
ant as its breath of life. In reality, woman makes no ap- 
pearance in the film except in a few secluded instances. 
But her influence is as subde as the Indian's overcon- 
quest and swallowing-up of his Spanish conqueror. 

The ptoii is ruled by his wife, the soldier goes to 
war but refuses to fight unless his wife is with him. 
There particularly is woman important, for sometimes 
she is the advance guard, going forward to prepare a 
town for the force's comfort, sometimes, when there 
is fighting, bringing up the rear with consolation and 
ministering presence. 

Mexico City politicians are frequently judged by 
their mistresses. It is common practise there to have 
both wife and mistress, one with a complete knowl- 
edge of the other. 

In Tehuantepec the woman is absolute, not only 
ruling, but doing the heavy work as well, while the 
husband dozes at home, happy for the first time to be 
unleashed from the fetters of responsibility. 

With the female's importance in mind and the 
physical beauty of the country to consider on the 
other hand, a beauty bewildering in its variety, rang- 
ing from tropical to frigid country, Eisenstein had to 
combine the elements into a whole that would appeal 
in subject matter as well as pictorial beauty. Eisen- 
stein's secret is his universality — his appeal to the man 
in the street as well as the man of letters. 

He therefore divided his picture into five irregular 
parts. The fifth and last episode will also serve as an 
epilogue. There is a prologue as well. All this will be 
included in a single film of 9 or 10 reels. 

The first part he may call "Tehuantepec: Paradise." 
It is here, a tropical province of cocoanut palms, verd- 
ant fields, and easy living, that woman is absolute. She 
tills the fields, barters in the market place and rules 
the home. Her husband is a procreative force and no 

The matchless carriage of the Tehuantepec woman, 
together with her beauty of form, due to the heavy 
objects she has carried on her head for generations, 
is a pictorial poem in itself. A supple body with strong 
conical breasts and a straightness of limb ascribed only 
to the ancients. Such characters pervade the reels. 

The second episode is "Maguey." In it Eisenstein has 
stressed man's supremacy, but indicated his reliance 
upon his female counterpart. The entire sequence oc- 


curs on a farm which in virility of landscape is in 
complete contrast with that of the preceding chapter. 
Here a phallic symbolism is engaged to emphasize 
the complete masculinity of the terrain. He accents 
the stem of the maguey, the upright stripes of the 
peon's zarape (the shawl-overcoat-blankct of the na- 
tive), the unmistakable masculine strength of the land 
where a living is wrested by force only. 

With the maguey plant, which sometimes rises to 
ten foot heights, as a thematic runner, his drama is 
enacted against a background of twin volcanos. The 
cruel charros, attired in their silver-bangled vests, 
swinging henaquen lassoes, ride their prancing mounts 
over the head of the boy who has been planted alive, 
chin deep, on a flat-topped mound. 

The third part may be called "Romance," the lull 
before the storm. In this part Eisenstein's satirical 
thrusts will penetrate and puncture a pretty affair about 
a bull fighter and his love for another man's wife. It 
is the interlude in preparation for the ensuing drama 
which is a turgid, seething account of revolution — all 
revolution, — not alone of Mexico, but extending 
through the ages in which man has arisen from his 
stocks to brandish the torch. It is laid in Mexico, but 
its import is much more universal. 

And following this is a promise of a perfect Mexico 
— one without strife, want, incipient bloodshed. This 
is a sort of liqueur. You take it or leave it. You can 
always ignore the dessert. 

Whether purposely or not, Eisenstein has so com- 
pletely covered Mexico that it will be difficult for an- 
other picture-director to enter the country and make 
a scene without repeating. The locales are so varied 
as to permit any form of life and existence and, taking 
full advantage, the Russian runs the gamut. Mexico 
harbors romance and glamor, and cruelty and priva- 
tion. There are tropics, mountains, deserts, jungles, 
The director has traversed it from one section to an- 
other. All this is in the picture, pieced together, as 
only Eisenstein can do it. 

This man with two others, one of whom grinds a 
simple camera, has completely thrown off the fetters 
of the Hollywood system of picture-making, and has 
exploited Mexico thoroughly in a manner never done 
before, having been aided on all sides because this 
time the exploitation is all to Mexico's advantage. 

Comparative working costs are interesting to note. 
The day's work at Los Remedios cost but very few 
dollars. His equipment consisted of a 400-foot load 
French-made camera, two gilded reflectors and five 
actors, each earning one peso (38 cents at the cur- 
rent rate). Transportation cost a few more pesos. Add 
to this the incidental developing, printing and negative 
costs together with the cutting and final duplication, 
and the sum total is surprisingly small. Naturally, there 
are days when hundreds of persons will be engaged 
for scenes and the costs soar accordingly, but for the 
most part the expenses are negligible. 

In Hollywood the same business would have en- 
tailed transportation for the stars and directors; two 
or three cameras, artificial illumination if necessary, 
overhead at the studio that covers a multitude of such 
sins as publicity, props, advertising, costumes, etc., etc. 
Somebody's system is basically at fault. 

5. M. Eisenstein and G. V. Alexandrov on the 
ruins of Chichenita, in Yucatan, Mexico. (1931) 

Eisenstein and Tisse preparing a shot on the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, Mexico. 

On the Hacienda Tellapayac: 

Wor\ hymn of the Mexican 

workers. Daily ceremony 

at dawn. 

Eisenstein says that the cinema is the representative 
art of today as painting was of yesterday. He has al- 
ready buried painting. He explains the growth in at- 
tendance at art exhibits as a result of publicity and 
additional newspapers devoting more space to them, 
and not as a manifestation of a naturally stimulated 
life. He says he knows how to do nothing but work 
at motion pictures. 

But he forgets for the moment the monastic seclu- 
sion into which he retires on occasion to work on his 
volume of esthetics which will devote a sufficient 
amount of space to the heretofore sorrowfully neglect- 
ed cinema. 

He also forgets his interest in mathematics (that day 
as Los Remedios when he had to wait ten minutes for 
something, he drew out of his pocket a paper-backed 
Russian volume on higher mathematics and in a mo- 
ment was lost in its intricacies, while perched in the 
cabin of a truck). He forgets the papers he writes 
tirelessly for every advanced journal on the cinema, 
mostly free. The cinema may be his profession, but his 

high, broad forehead sees beyond its technical limita- 
tions into a meaning that may exploit or advance life, 
the living, the helpless. Directing a scene, turning a 
crank, cutting a film, he considers but the cog in a 
huge wheel that is beginning to turn with tremendous 

Eisenstein may return to the Soviet Union next 
month (March) with his comrades, Alexandrov and 
Tisse, to film a document in celebration of the fifteenth 
Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. 

Que Viva Mexico! may or may not stir an eddy 
of interest. Because of the flooded book marts that 
sag with volumes on tourist Mexico, there is a tre- 
mendous curiosity about the country. Even now every- 
one there is planning for the influx of Americans tired 
of the transatlantic crossing. Because of a universal un- 
dercurrent of unrest, the message of the film may stir a 
reaction. Because of its pictorial beauty it will be some- 
thing to look at. Because of its mature outlook it will 
merit serious consideration. Who knows what it may do 
for Mexico? 


Translated for "Experimental Cinema" from the 
Soviet Newspaper/ Kino",by Alexander Brailovsky 



To produce a sound film it is necessary to study in 
a systematic manner all the new forms and possibili- 
ties of the dynamic effect of the sound film on the 
audience, and to put to practical use all such possibili- 
ties as basic material for the production of a concrete 
dramatic picture. 

Every experimental film of this kind (100-150 meters) 
should have for its purpose to employ fully all varia- 
tions and possibilities of a given effect and to apply 
all laws of correlation between the sound and the image 
in connection with the story written specifically with 
this purpose in view. 

Such a short-reel film should bear "play-film" tide, 
and only in a sub-title should its technical purpose be 
indicated (e.g., the testing of some definite sound 

In the first short-reel series of experimental "play- 
films"* we should develop the peculiar fields of specific 
sound-cinema effects. 

1. The increase and decrease of tone- volume. 

2. The correlation between the volume of the sound 
and the sharpness of the image. The parallel increase 
and decrease of the sound and the image (the increase 
of intensity) — or the comic effect of the opposite ac- 

* Translator's note: By "play-film," in contradistinction to 
"documentary film," in Soviet Cinematography, is under- 
stood a film made from an especially prepared scenario, ac- 
cording to the story written for it, and played by actors, 
instead of being shot from real life-events (as Vertov's 
group is doing). 

tion — a suddenly interrupted sound in connection with 
the increased action on the screen. 

3. Parallel or syncopated movement in the rhythm 
of the picture and the rhythm of the sound. The mus- 
ical rhythm as a preliminary allusion to the incipient 
intrinsic movement. The dramatic accent of a rest 
(pause) and silence. 

4. Correlation between the character of an image 
and the tonality — Is it possible to perceive the subject 
of a picture by its musical accompaniment? — The em- 
ploying, as the picture goes on, of all possible sound 
variations. — "What do you hear now?" (The identifi- 
cation of the sound with its source). (The world of 
near-sighted and blind people.) 

5. The unity of a sound picture. Association of def- 
inite events with definite noises or music. Symbolism 
of the sound. 

6. Association of images with music. The awaken- 
ing of the perception of an image through music. The 
cinematographic accompaniment to a given music 

7. The correlation between music and minds in na- 

8. The sound montage as musical shaping of noises. 

9. Sound synchronization of silent pictures. 

10. The simultaneous perception by the audience 
of the image on the screen and of sounds and the text, 
as though it is spoken from behind the stage. 

11. Fantastic and grotesque sound. The distortion 
of real sound in memory and in imagination. 




EDITORS' NOTE: In presenting this article by our Cuban correspondent, we feel that 
we are privileged to afford the readers of Experimental Cinema with a document whose 
importance to the study of film-culture cannot be overestimated. Here is genuine analysis 
applied both to the cinema in its role as an agent of American imperialism and to the politi- 
cal tragedy of the peoples of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and other American "colonies." 

"We have given Cuba industry, but are the Cubans 
free?" Leland H. fen\s, 


"In Monroe's time the only way to take a part of South 
America was to take the land. Now finance has new 
ways of its own." Walter Hinez Page 

Of those "new ways" which American finance capi- 
tal has now, Hollywood and its pictures are of great 
help by their power to form in the American people 
a wrong idea of the countries down by the Rio Grande 
as well as a perfect misconception of life among the 
peoples of Hispano-America. 

The best exponent of those "new ways" is the 
so-called Republic of Cuba and I think that a brief 
historical digression, an exposition of the factors, the 
components of the Cuban social aggregate, — politico- 
economic source, — is necessary to clarify the present 
state of things and to emphasize the supremacy of Hol- 
lywood's pernicious influence on the social develop 
ment of Cuba with particular reference to the peasants 
and proletarians. 

In accordance with John Quincy Adams, the Amer- 
ican statesmen have believed that Cuba "gravitates to 
the United States as an apple severed by the tempest 
gravitates to the ground." So, for 75 years they have 
looked for the chance of acquiring the island in one 
way or another. 

The Cubans fought their way to liberty from 1850 
to 1898. The first serious attempt was made from 1868 
to 1878 in the Ten Years' War (Guerra de los Diez 
Anos). A strong class (Cuban bourgeoisie) formed by 
rural and sugar-mill owners (haciendados), rich law- 
yers, tobacco planters, farmers, realized at that time — 
the middle of the Nineteenth century — the necessity of 
setting free the productive forces developed in the 
womb of the colonial-political structure by breaking 
through this structure. In the dialectic process that 
class was the negation struggling against the positive, 
the affirmative, impersonated in the colony taxes, laws, 
slavery, preponderance of the Church, etc., etc. 

Owing to various factors, the attempt failed, thus 
according with Hegel's postulate: "When the power 
to develop the contradiction and bring it to a head is 
lacking, the thing or the being is shattered in the con- 


tradiction." (Hegel, Science of Logic). So, the Cuban 
bourgeoisie failed to realize its historical role. 

However, rebel "colonos" that were not entirely 
defeated, managed to get from Spain, in the famous 
pact known as the "Zanjon Pact," the promise of put- 
ting into effect some reforms and concessions. 

Then began a long period of intermittent "pour- 
parlers" between Spain and the U. S. A. One day the 
U. S. A. wanted to buy the island, and the next day 
they did not. One President seemed to be a good 
friend of Cuba, the next one raised a high tariff against 
Cuban products, most of which go to that nautral 
market. So the U. S. A. made the Cuban bourgeoisie 
and the people of Cuba understand that their lives 
were in the hands of the U. S. A. 

They realized this at last, but in the wrong way. 
They thought that once they were free and not a 
colony of Spain, the North American Republic would 
change its policies. So they started a new war against 
Spain in 1895. In 1898 the Maine was blown up in 
"la Bahia de la Habana." The Americans, — and when 
I say "the Americans" I mean the political and finan- 
cial captains, — found their chance! The American 
Congress passed a joint resolution claiming that "the 
people of Cuba are and of right ought to be independ- 
ent" and that "the United States disclaims any dis- 
position or intention to exercise sovereignity, jurisdic- 
tion or control over said Island of Cuba . . ." 

This time the Cuban bourgeoisie completely failed 
to accomplish its nationalistic role, in accordance with 
the laws of historical determinism. 

Thus, the United States entered into its second im- 
perialistic war, disguised — as in 1916 and 1918 — under 
the famous words: "justice," "humanity," "the right 
of the little countries," etc. 

Three months later Spain was defeated and Amer- 
ica acquired new territories. Porto Rico, the Philip- 
pine Islands and . . . Cuba. In 1902, after three years 
of intervention, they obliged the Cubans to sign the 
Piatt Amendment and a commercial treaty adjunct to 
it and placed the government of the Island in the 
hands of the first president of the Republic of Cuba. 

What a marvelous scheme! The finest, the wittiest 
ever imagined by an imperialistic government! A 
colony disguised as a Republic! Instead of Spain, it 
was now the United States who ruled. During the 

past 30 years, American Capital, safeguarded by the 
Piatt Amendment and under the privileges of the 
Commercial Treaty, has acquired. — the Great War and 
the 1920 crash accelerated the process, — the railroads, 
all public utilities, the banking and financial institu- 
tions, big mining enterprises, 80 percent of the sugar 
crop, 75 percent of the fertile soil, and very important 
commercial and real estate business, the racehorse 
track, the great Casino, etc., etc 

So we have become an economic-political dependent 
of the United States, but we have a President of the 
Republic, a Senate, a House of Representatives which 
has diplomatic and consular representation all over 
the world . . . and a beautiful banner, a big red, white 
and blue triangle with a great white star in it, waving 
in the ocean breeze, shining in the sun, under a high 
tropical sky . . . These are the phrases which both the 
American and the Cuban politicians and financial mag- 
nates have used to the proletarians, peasants, artisans 
and petit bourgeoisie of Cuba. 

The moving picture business could not be an excep- 
tion in Cuba's economy, as it is in the hands of Holly- 
wood producing companies who have representatives 
here. Some of them have their own theatres for the 
projection of their films. It can be said that a moving 
picture trust has been formed in Cuba by the Ameri- 
can picture companies, which fixes the prices of the 
tickets, the size of advertisements in the newspapers, 
and which, in one way or another, boycotts the Euro- 
pean and Soviet films. 

So Cuba's population cannot see pictures other than 
the American and is therefore under the exclusive in- 
fluence of Hollywood. Hollywood plays a great and 
two-edged part in the imperialistic scheme. By means 
of its pictures, Hollywood infects all other countries 
with the philistine, hypocritical, rotten American life- 
conception. At the same time, to the American masses, 
Hollywood presents the Latin American people as the 
lowest, most repulsive scoundrels on earth. A Latin, 
or Latin American, is always a traitor, a villain. Years 
ago, there was not a picture that was without a Spanish 
or Spanish-American villain. In Strangers May Kiss, 
they present a little Mexican town: the owner of the 
old "posada" (inn) is a drunkard and the "mozo" 
(servant, waiter) is a similar character; the streets with 
three feet of mud; countless beggars; licentious girls. 

I remember, too, the picture, Under the Texas Moon, 
openly offensive to Mexican women, the projection of 
which in a movie-house in the Latin section of New 
York City provoked a terrible tumult. The tumult was 
caused by the enraged protest of a few Mexican and 
Cuban students, in which one of the former by the 
name of Gonzales was killed, and the Cubans, Gabriel 
Barcelo and Carlos Martinez, were sent to the Tombs. 

In many cases these depictions are due to the ency- 
clopedic ignorance of most of the film-directors of Hol- 
lywood. Such is the case with The Cuban Love Song, 
a stupid and absurd picture that will soon be finished 
in Hollywood, according to what Mr. Ernesto Lecu- 
ona has told a friend of mine. (Mr. Lecuona is a famous 
Cuban musician who went to Hollywood under con- 
tract to M-G-M to play in that picture.) 

Such pictures are vulgar and grotesque, dull but 
full of the so-called "color" which so greatly pleases 
the "100 percent American," — what a stupid, untrue 
designation, this expression, 100 percent American! 
For that type of man (hundred-percenter), all Spanish- 
American countries, — as well as Spain, I think, — are 
full of venal, lazy men and women of low mentality. 

The best depiction I have read of that type of "Amer- 
ican" is in John Reed's book Daughter of the Revolu- 
tion and Other Stories. It is entitled Mac-American." 

Hollywood, a docile and well-learned "servidor" of 
the American imperialists, reinforces those ideas by 
means of which the marines and soldiers will fight 
blindly against men they have never seen before and 
against whom they do not have any hatred, just as 
they had none in the Great War. 

I do not know if there is an English translation of 
Hernan Robleto's book Sangre en el Tropico, {Blood 
in the Tropics), a vivid narration, highly lyrical, a 
mad cry from the Nicaraguan people, but it it has not 
already been translated, it should be immediately, in 
if it has not already been translated, it should be trans- 
lated immediately in order to make the American peo- 
ple understand for what purpose and in what manner 
the Nicaraguans really died at the bottom of the deep, 
green, beautiful valleys and on the craggy rocks of 
"la sierra." 

The Cuban social aggregate cannot be considered 
as other than that of a colony. There is the proletariat 
class, which is not great, notwithstanding the intense 
rationalization of the sugar industry, mining and 
tobacco manufacture. This proletariat is far from hav- 
ing reached maturity and, with the exception of the 
few members of the clandestine Communist Party, the 
class-consciousness of the workers is weak, most of 
them ignoring the very reason, the material source, 
of their misery and terrible exploitation. As a conse- 
quence of this weakness on the part of the proletariat 
and because of the intensive white terror, the class- 
struggle is obscurely defined. 

Two transition (or intermediary) classes, the guaji- 
ros (peasants) and the artisans form the very nerve of 
the Cuban population. The former are very numerous, 
working mostly in the American latifundio, planting, 
cultivating, cutting and hauling the sugar, in the to- 
bacco factories and in the cultivation of the minor 
fruits. Few of these peasants are what we call "colo- 
nos," — a kind of independent planter, — but, in any 
case, they are the slaves of the foreign entrepreneurs, 
working themselves to death, their families steeped in 
misery and poverty, for the benefit of the shareholders 
and boards of directors in New York and London. 

The degree of illiteracy in those two classes as well 
as in the proletariat is very high. In that class and in 
the two sub-classes are great numbers of Negroes, to 
whom I shall make special reference later. 

Numerous, too, is the middle class or petit-bour- 
geoisie, — bank clerks, sugar, mining, tobacco, public 
utilities, real estate, railroad employees, as well as the 
State, the provincial government and the municipality 
officers. At the top is an ambitious bourgeoisie, now 
ruined as a result of the drop in the price of sugar, but 


in very friendly disposition toward and in close rela- 
tionship with the American entrepreneurs, from whom 
they expect to receive high emoluments, advantages, 
privileges and business participations. To them, Amer- 
icans are always prospective buyers of their over-valued 

The whole population of Cuba suffers drastically 
from the influence of Hollywood pictures, and even 
though I am chiefly interested, — as may be easily un- 
derstood, — in the effect of these pictures on the prole- 
tariat and the two classes aforementioned, I think 
their influence on the petit-bourgeoisie and the bour- 
geoisie, deserves some consideration, although the for- 
mer, and more especially the latter, are well satisfied 
with Hollywood films and do not accept other pictures 
for the simple reason that those made by Hollywood 
glorify the world in which they, snobs that they are, 
wish to live. Morally, economically, politically, they 
have been deformed by Hollywood and they do not 
tolerate even a German or a French picture. 

The Cuban bourgeoisie know nothing about the 
new art movement all over the world. Romantic in 
their sentiments, they are likewise romantic in their 
artistic concepts and, as a consequence, they are highly 
conservative, suspecting in every artistic innovation a 
masked attack against the status quo in which, as ex- 
ploiters, they are so comfortably entrenched. 

To the girls and boys of the Cuban bourgeoisie, 
there is nothing so worthy of imitation as the boys and 
girls they see in the American films, and they want to 
shape their lives in conformity to the lives of motion 
picture heroes and heroines. From all this there arises 
the contradiction between a society that was almost 
patriarchal sixteen years ago and the new customs 
which the younger set, and even the adults, are trying 
to impose in matters of love, family relationships, etc. 
Then follow wild parties, "necking" orgies, licentious- 
ness, miscomprehension of what "free love" really 
means, gross sensuality, lack of control of the lowest 
passions, and a narrow, American, utilitarian life-con- 
ception, an ardent paean to those who win, no matter 

It is the beginning of that disintegrating process 
through which the bourgeoisie all over the world is 
passing in its final stages as a perishing class. 

An art is what the dominant class wants it to be, 
because an art involves "men." An art consists of the 
artists by whom it is accomplished or performed, and 
artists are what the productive relations make them 
under the pressure of those who possess the money 
and the power. 

So, cinema art, like every other art in society, 
is a class matter based on the class struggle. The film 
is, therefore, a weapon in the hands of the bourgeoisie 
in its struggle against the proletariat for the conserva- 
tion of the present relations of production and appro- 
priation. And what a weapon the bourgeoisie and 
American imperialism have in the cinema! Even the 
weapon of religion in the hands of the Roman Cath- 
olic Church, embodied in the classical arts — painting, 
sculpture, architecture, and printing, — was not so ef- 
fective, so efficient, as this new weapon, the vital art 
of our time. 

Hollywood pictures are furiously individualistic. 
They exalt what the North Americans call "self-made 


men," the men who have always accomplished great 
success by themselves, as if in society (especially in a 
society so highly interrelated as modern capitalist so- 
ciety) things were like that. . 

For the American movies there is no such thing as 
the social problem. It is taboo, and even when the 
Hollywood producers make a picture with some social 
foundation, they distort it and pervert it, as in the case 
of An American Tragedy. Charles Chaplin himself, 
who, without question, has a social preoccupation, ex- 
presses it timidly, not being sufficiendy courageous or 
able to face that problem squarely and develop it to 
its logical conclusion. Thus, in his films, the "little 
vagabond" has more "atmosphere" (social overtones) 
than the protagonist of the standard American pic- 
ture, — for the latter there is no such thing as the en- 
vironment or the social milieu and man acts as an 
independent subject, — but there is not a real attempt 
to present and analyze the inner source, the social 
source, of his condition and status as a lumpenprole- 

In this connection, I refer the reader to Waldo Frank's 
book The Re-Discovery of America, Chap XI, pp. 138 
and 139. For different reasons, — without question, — 
both Charles Chaplin and the average American di- 
rector do the same thing: evade the social problem. 

What does Hollywood show to Cuban peasants and 
proletarians ? 

In the American film there is always a perfect 
understanding between Capital and Labor, between 
patron and worker, between master and wage-slave, 
the former (Capital) as well as the State (ema- 
nated from God) being like a tender, comprehending 
father. No mistake in this: if you are obedient and 
laborious, they (the bosses) will recognize it some day 
and "raise" you with a gracious gesture. If there is 
some cruelty or injustice in this "best of all possible 
worlds," — oh, Candide! — then, at the end of the pic- 
ture, with God's will, everything is fixed and the good 
will get their recompense. 

And the Cuban worker, who lives in very different 
conditions, with a low salary and high living costs, 
without liberty or the right to express his own class- 
convictions, let alone the natural human right to exist, 
poisoned with the slogans and lies of the American 
films, just as his brothers in the past were degraded 
by the Roman conformity and humility dogma, is sup- 
posed to hope that some day his country, under the 
capitalistic system, will be as "civilized" as the great 
North American Republic. And even more: the Cuban 
worker is supposed to feel gratitude to that Anglo- 
Saxon race, so "pure," "strong" and "clean," helping 
this ill-disciplined and sometimes revolutionary little 
nation to acquire honest political institutions, good 
finances, etc., etc. . .{Tell it to the Nicaraguans, to the 
Porto Rican slaves, to the people of Haiti, whom your 
marines persecuted and outraged — no matter what the 
American justification in pictures against Sandino and 

We do not have, as in Mexico, Peru and Chile, the 
problem of the tremendous masses of Indians, and 
the racial problem does not exist in Cuba, at least not 
like in the United States. The first act of the Cuban 

Continued on page 52 



Translated by Alexander Brailovsky from the 
Russian Original in "Proletarskoya Kino" 

As a basis for my work on a "cine-piece," I apply the 
analytical method which, as a result of the analysis 
of my experience, has gradually crystallized into an ever 
clearer and more distinctly outlined method of film- 

The orientation towards the "cine-language," as the 
richest, the most rational and the most comprehensible 
means of expression — is unconditionally correct. My 
conviction in this has been strengthened and confirmed 
by my latest work on the film, Spring. 

This film, expressed entirely in the pure cine-idiom, 
without resorting to the aid of literary explanations 
(tides) — proved to be one easily understood by the 

What does "cine-language" mean? 

What does "cine-A B. C" mean? 

Leaving aside the existing literary alphabet, — what 
must be considered as a single "cine-letter," "cine- 
word," "cine-sentence," "cine-piece"? 

To answer this it is necessary first of all to investi- 
gate whether it is possible to draw a parallel between 
the language of literature and the language of the 

A letter, a word, a sentence, as the elements of liter- 
ary expression, are conventionally accepted conceptions 
and, therefore, they are comprehensible to a literate 
person only, while every frame of a film speaks in 
the most concrete way, giving the reproduction of the 
life-phenomena among which an individual is being 
brought up. Thus the elements of cine-expression are 
understood even by an illiterate. 

A cine-clement gives at once both the definition 
and the object; it speaks at one and the same time 
about the form, the quality, the dynamic and the 
whole series of other categories, which in literature 
would require an extensive narrative. 

It is possible to draw partially a parallel between 
"cine-language" and the "language of music (provided 
it is possible to speak at all of the 'language" of music) 
as far as, for instance, rhythm and tempo are concerned. 

The closest analogy to the work on the creation of 
a "cine-piece" is afforded by the work of an engineer 
or a chemist. 

The only difference is that an engineer or a chemist 
knows beforehand the material which he will use in 
his constructions. An engineer can estimate exactly 
the necessary building material and can forsee its 
qualities and functions. A chemist can in advance take 
into account the elements necessary for the composi- 
tion of this or that body. 

But in obtaining the material for a "cine-piece," 
the elements which will be used as its building mater- 
ial can be pre-estimated only in a very limited way. 
In other words, the presence of concrete elements can 
not be guaranteed. Instead, there is a very extensive 
choice of elements of cine-expressions, which can be 
used functionally for a single given case. 

The last condition neutralizes the impossibility to 
pre-estimate the concrete material and to provide one- 
self with it in a definite way. The obtaining of mater- 
ial out of which a cine-piece will be constructed, and 
the very work of construction — this, I consider as 
primary analysis, secondary analysis, — plus synthesis. 
In other words, I consider the analytical investiga- 
tion as the fundamental, basic work. 

I use my own eyes for preliminary orientation ("pre- 
shooting"); then I introduce a camera, as an appara- 
tus of more perfect vision, possessing the faculty of 

The second stage of the primary analysis is "the 
shooting," i.e., the attack with the camera upon the 
settings, selected by "pre-shooting," for the purpose 
of their further analysis and fixation. Thus, the pre- 
liminary analysis has two stages of work; pre-shooting 
and shooting. 

Pre-shooting serves first, for the selection from the en- 
tire sum of phenomena of those necessary for the given 
case; secondly, for the decomposition of phenomena 
into basic ones, derivative ones, etc. 

Phenomena, analyzed in such a way, provide al- 
ready the material for the last stage of the work of 
shooting, — the fixation. The path of fixation is deter- 
mined firstly, by the purpose for which the analysis 
has been made and the results of the analysis — the 
characteristics of the phenomena subject to fixation, 
the milieu, in which they take their place and their 
individual features. 

By "milieu" I mean: conditions of illumination, 
the general background, the separate phenomena which 
form the background, the influence and the action of 
the surrounding phenomena upon the phenomenon- 
subject to be fixed. 

The individual qualities of the phenomena are: the 
structure, color, character of surface, size, the "usual- 
ness" or "rareness" of phenomena, if its nature is ani- 
mate or inanimate, dynamic or static, its adaptability 
or unadaptability to the action of the camera. The first 
stage of primary analysis, the "pre-shooting," deter- 
mines the group to which the phenomenon belongs. 
The moment one introduces the camera into a definite 
milieu — one has to be fully prepared in order to fix the 
maximum quantity of moments necessary for the snap- 
ping of the given subject, — even those moments which 
have been somehow overlooked in the pre-shooting. 

By shooting we carry the dissection of the pheno- 
mena further into its composite elements and we fix 
them — in one way or another, according to the them- 
atic orientation or the organization of material decided 
upon previously. 

In order to show in a clearer manner how theoretical 
principles are applied in practice, I am going to give 
a few instances from my film, Spring. 

Commemoration for the dead at the cemetery. 


(Ceremonial dinner traditionally given in old Russia 
by the relatives of the dead right after the funeral. — 
Trans. Note.) 

The pre-shooting gives: 

i. The priests prowling about the cemetery. 

2. One of them is hired for the funeral services. 

3. The funeral service. 

4. Paying the priest. 

5. Passing the botde (booze). 
5. Having a bite to eat after. 

7. Drunken carouse. 

8. The brawl. 

Now the pre-shooting is over. Let us take up the 
fixation and consider a few moments of it: 
"Priests prowling about the cemetery." 
Analyzing this I find that: 

1. The shooting is necessarily done from a position 
of hiding — as the phenomenon is suitable for camera 

2. The "prowling priest" must be perceived by the 
audience as a fast-moving, dynamic phenomenon. 

3. The taking should be done against the most 
striking background, or against the background which 
would aid most in the "theme-feeling." 

The first problem is solved by the long shot 
from the hiding-place. The second — by the pan-shot 
with the fixation of the passing-by priest always at 
the center of the frame. 

This way of using the long-focussed optic gives the 
best illusion of the shooting of the movement, i.e., 
gives the best angle of observation of the phenomenon 
in motion. The same method solves in this particular 
case the third problem — to outline sharply the observ- 
ed phenomenon upon the ever narrowing background, 
and it even creates the stereoscopic illusion. 

"The funeral service." 

A considerably extensive observation of the pheno- 
menon has led me to the conclusion that it has a finish- 
ed scheme — from the beginning to the end. 

This scheme is not perceived by us because its sep- 
arate moments are scattered in time farther from each 
other than could be grasped by our visual memory. 
For the very same reason we do not see the move- 
ment of the hand of the clock on the dial, nor the slow 
processes of destruction, e.g., the gradual disruption 
of rocks by the action of the winds, landslides, etc. 
The slowed-down shooting reduces distance between 
separate moments of the slow-moving process and thus 
discloses its dynamic scheme and even deciphers its 

In modern city and street-planning, the laws 
governing the movement of liquids are being taken 
into account. In narrow passages, at the maximum 
aggregation of pedestrians and vehicles — current de- 
creases; at the outlets — the current increases. 

At one of the October celebrations I had the occa- 
sion to take, by a slowed-down camera, the passing 
of the procession. The accelerated movement obtained 
gave the scheme of the movement of a human stream. 

In the film, Spring, I caught the long, slow-moving 
funeral service by slowed-down shoodng, and thus 
could obtain the scheme of a small selecdon of the 
puppet-show, — which presents the religious rites in 

In this case the camera helped to investigate a life- 


phenomenon by means of mechanically assisted vision, 
as a microscope discloses to us phenomena unseen by 
the unaided eye. 

In this synoptical exposidon I have pointed out only 
the most outstanding methods, which give an idea of 
the analytical approach to the use of camera-possibili- 
ties: rapid shooting, assisting our eye for the analysis 
of fast-moving phenomena; shooting from points in- 
accessible or accessible with difficulty to the unaided 
eye; the dissection of the general appearance of the 
phenomenon and the fixation by close-ups of its con- 
structive elements; further dissection of the pheno- 
mena and the fixation by the macro-shoodng, micro- 
shooting, tele-shooting, etc. 

Such are the analytical possibilities which are offered 
by the cine-camera. 

As a result, we have on our montage shelves the 
material for the future film, — still not entirely dis- 
sected into its elements, still with predomination of 
the complexed phenomena, subject to further analysis. 
One should not forget that "an element" is not a 
construcdve quantity or conception. 

Our estimation of a given portion of the material, 
as an element of a film, depends upon our thematic 
purpose and the form of cine-expression which we 

Thus, we come to the secondary analysis, i.e., the 
analysis of the material obtained. Properly speaking, 
the process of analysis goes on uninterruptedly. I make 
a distinction between the primary and the secondary 
analysis only, according to the character of working 
processes. It would, therefore, be erroneous to think 
that the work of discovery of cine-language is limited 
by the primary analysis only. 

In fact, by the primary analysis we obtained only 
raw material — half-manufactured stuff, — but there is 
contained in this raw material the maximum of ele- 
ments needed by us. 

Now, what does the element of the secondary ana- 
lysis mean? 

What was considered an element in the primary 
analysis is only raw material in the secondary one. 
Thus the study of life-phenomena becomes a planned, 
ever-deepening research. Now, what is the depth, what 
are the limits of the secondary analysis? 

Everything is clear and comprehensible in the pri- 
mary analysis, both in pre-shooting and in the shoot- 
ing: out of the total sum of phenomena we select 
those which are thematically necessary; we study their 
details; we dissect them into the elements they are 
made of, as far as possibilities of tele-, macro-, and 
micro-shooting permit. 

What further analysis could be possible, then? 

It seems as though it is possible to speak only of the 
classifying of elements of the primary analysis, and of 
their thematic "concatenation," according to Pudov- 
kin's formula, or of their "conflict," according to 

Let us consider the classified material. 

We take from the montage box a Section A. All 
frames of this piece are alike as to composition and 
content. Now let's take another piece, B; while study- 
ing the frames of this section, we see that every frame 
is different from its neighbor's, because the primary 
analysis in this case has fixed a dynamic phenomenon 


and the very dissimilarity of the separate frames deter- 
mines the cinematic nature of Section B. 

If we consider a single frame as an element, we shall 
have a series of similar elements in A, while B con- 
sists of series of dissimilar elements. 

In the synthesis, i.e., in the construction of a cine- 
sentence, if we use A, we may take the necessary 
number of frames from each end. But in order to use 
B, we need first to analyze it, because it consists of 
series of elements of a movement, of intermediary 
points and the points of culmination. There is no cine- 
language without taking into account such elements. 

A few instances from the film, Spring. As a re- 
sult of the primary analysis, I obtained a series of sec- 
tions representing the football game. 

After having classified the material, i.e., sorted into 
groups the functionally similar pieces, we obtain: 
Group i. Goal-keeper's work. 
Group 2. The foot strikes the ball. 
Group 3. Reaction on the faces. 

Let us take and analyze a piece of group 1. This piece 
contains a static moment: a goal-keeper on watch. 
A defensive move 
The receiving of the ball 

Thus the piece of group 1, while being an element 
in the primary analysis, gives a series of new elements 
in the secondary analysis. 

We do similar work on a piece of group 2. We ob- 

A man runs toward the ball 

Strikes the ball 

The inertia of the player 

Let us suppose that for our purpose, a study of foot- 
ball needs no further analysis of these two groups. 

Now we take up group 3 — the men's faces reacting 
to the game. 

In every piece of this group we find a series of ele- 
ments which are functionally different. Some of them 
correspond to the reaction to the hitting of the goal 
by the ball, some react to the foul hit, some express 
anxiety, some tensity of waiting, etc. 

When we consider the elements obtained, we shall 
have still shorter slices, i.e., pieces consisting of a very 
small number of frames, but, in recompense, more 

In the montage of the film, Spring, I carried the 
analysis of these slices still further, and obtained a cul- 
mination point — a frame yielding the maximum for the 
characterization of a given reaction. By multiplication 
of the frame, I obtain statics — in a maximum of dyna- 

In the other part of the same film I show the Easter 
holidays as a feast of gluttony and boozing. 

One of the elements obtained by the primary ana- 

A woman drinking vodka 

The secondary analysis gives a new series of ele- 

The woman brings the glass into her mouth 

She drinks 

With a jerk she brings the glass away from her 


The distorted features expressing reaction to the 

bitter taste of vodka 

Thus we dissected a piece into a series of separate 
moments and every moment is taken into account as 
an element of the future film-structure. 

But we are not at the end yet. 

Let us carry on the study of elements obtained. We 
see a series of frames — and almost every one could 
serve as an independent montage-element. 

In our case I used the culmination points of the 
elements obtained by the secondary analysis — by the 
multiplication of a frame. 

Due to that, we have disclosed the instinctive re- 
sistance of the organism to the poison. 

This method is, in fact, a way of scientific analysis. 
In the primary analysis it is analogous to slowed-down 
shooting, rapid shooting, macro- and micro-shooting. 

I have applied this method for the first time in the 
film, Moscow, to the theme: Moscow taking a rest." 
At the climax of merrymaking I use the culmination- 
frame as an element; by the multiplication of a single 
frame as an element; by the multiplication of a single 

The film, Spring, contains many moments built 
upon such a multiplication of a frame. At the end 
of part 5, I give the extract of laughter, — through cul- 
mination-frames I obtain the montage of a cine-laugh, 

One would think that having come to a single 
frame, we have reached the most simple element of 
cine-language. But analyzing the frame itself, study- 
ing its constituent elements, we often find elements 
necessary for the building of a given cine-sentence. 
How are such elements obtained? Mostly by the exten- 
sive use in photography of the enlarging from the nega- 
tive of part of a shot. 

By the same means, in the secondary analysis we 
can decompose a single frame into constituent ele- 

Thus — after having investigated the material by the 
primary analysis, after having decomposed it into ele- 
ments by the secondary analysis, — we can take up the 

the construction of a cine-piece. 




"... in spite of these faults, and half a dozen others, I would rather see 
this picture than the slickest society drama that ever came out of Holly- 
wood. The Russian films take you somewhere; they rouse your anger or 
enthusiasm ; they get something done." 

— Malcolm Cowley in The New Republic 
of February 10, 1932. 





Experimental Cinema has asked me to clarify certain ideas 
and terminology propounded in M. Kaufman's article. While 
agreeing to do this, I wish to emphasize that I take full respon- 
sibility for the interpretation of M. Kaufman's ideas and if my 
interpretation is wrong — the fault is entirely mine.— A. B. 

Suppose you read the word "horse." As a means of 
literary expression it is only an abstract and very gen- 
eral symbol. It is left to your imagination to decide 
upon a whole series of qualifications of a "horse." It 
might be a big horse, small, harness, race, young, old, 
with a fluffy tail, or tail-less, Arab stallion or French 
percheron, or a Russian, half-starved peasant "seevka." 
Now, when you see the horse on the screen, all these 
qualifications are given to you at once and immediately 
in a visual image. Let's call this visual image a "cine- 
word." We see that to render adequately just a single 
"cine-word" by the means of written words — we 
should need a page of description. 

On the other hand, suppose you read a word "war." 
It is perhaps impossible to render it by a single image: 
we need a series of images, the sum of which sug- 
gests to us the idea of a "war." 

So "cine-language" has its own nature, different 
from literary language. Now to continue. 


What is a single "cine-letter"? Again we resort to 
the analogy with the written letter. I write a single 
letter "m." It hardly has any meaning by itself. Taken 
by itself, it is only a mere phonetic symbol. It acquires 
meaning only in definite connection with other let- 
ters. It might be a part of a word "mother," or "miner," 
or "mushroom," or "bum," or "Omaha," or "Potem- 
kin," etc., etc. 

Accordingly, an isolated elemetnary image has no 
cinematographic "meaning." Suppose I see an image 
of "a bottle." Only in connection with other images 
do I perceive whether it is a bottle of whiskey, con- 
fiscated by prohibition agents, — or a bottle thrown into 
the ocean by people from a drowning boat, containing 
important information, — or a bottle as a weapon in a 
drunken brawl of sailors in a Shanghai saloon, etc. 

The same as a word "Potemkin" cannot be written 
without an "m," — so a certain situation cannot be ex- 
pressed through images without presenting the image 
of a "bottle." 

Let us call such a single image a "cine-letter." 

Now, suppose you want to express cinematographi- 
cally the following literary sentence: "Ivan's childhood 
passed in a family of a poor shoemaker, with a drunk- 
ard father, while his mother was a timid, God-fearing 
woman." The series of correspondent concrete visual 

images — let us call them a cine-sentence. "Taking up 
the foregoing example: To a single literary word 
"War" on the screen would correspond to a whole 

"words, words, words" . . .), their disposition in a sen- 
tence — they rhythmical flow — their recurrence or vice- 
versa — expressions of the same idea by different words, 
— in short, a manipulation of words, as material, is 
what we call a literary manner, or style, (chool, etc.). 
The analogical choice, disposition, rhythmical outline, 
manipulation of elementary single visual images, "cine- 
words" (or mechanically speaking, certain sets of 
frames or, as Kaufman suggests, even parts of a frame) 
— is the montage, (or mechanically speaking, "cut- 


Of course, the above is only the first approximation. 
Styles, as the most synthetic characteristic of the art of 
certain epochs, have always been the expression of the 
psychology, and, in particular, of the ideology of definite 
social groups. This refers to the cinema and its montage- 
style. The relation of the style to the social class is a 
problem passionately discussed in present Soviet film- 
literature. In the Soviet Union it is not a problem of pure 
theory. The Soviet cinematographers are trying to dis- 
cover the constituent elements of a proletarian style in 
the art of the film. The treatment of the problem in this 
sense is outside the purely technical article of Kaufman. 

Kaufman's article discusses only visual "silent" 
films. The advent of sound, or spoken word, brings, 
of course, additional elements to the problem. 

Micro-, macro-, tele-shooting, etc., . . . Kaufman calls 
the camera "an apparatus of more perfect vision". 

It is true, but with the following reservations: our 
vision is stereoscopic, camera gives us rather flat 
images, perceived at two slightly different angles — 
wherefrom the feeling or 'depth." But camera has a 
single eye. A man, one-eyed from birth will be prob- 
ably more satisfied with our present flat screen 
"images" th an people with normal vision. In this 
sense our natural vision is perhaps more perfect than 
a mechanical eye. 

With this reservation, a camera eye, a lense, is more 
perfect apparatus of vision. Furthermore, different sys- 
tems of lenses add to our natural eye artificial "eyes" 
of tremendous power: microscope, telescope. Artificial 
eyes see — and through them a sensitive plate could be 
fix — extremely small details and processes (life of mi- 
crobes), as well as cosmically extremely distant objects. 
The adaptation of microscopic or telescopic lenses is 
an immensely enrichening reinforcement of our visual 
imagery. They open a new world of "cine-letters" and 
"cine-words." They enable us to "shoot" what is go- 
ing on on the summit of a mountain, to "shoot" from 


In the country of the magueys 

Girl from the Isthmus 
of Tehuantepec 


Two production-stills showing Eisenstein, Alex- 
andvov and Tisse at woi\ on "Qle Viva Mexico!" 
The upper still shows Eisenstein looking into the 
finder to gauge an angle close-up of a Mexican 
woman. The lower still shows the S. M. Eisen- 
stein Collective Production company at woi\. 
Eisenstein, in the mackjnaw jacket, is directing. 
Next to him, with hand upraised, is Agustin 
Aragon Leiva, special Mexican assistant to Eisen- 
stein, translating into Spanish instructions given 
by Eisenstein in French and English. Tisse is the 
"gypsy" at the camera. Alexandrov can be seen 
l{iifcling beside him. The man with the big hat is 
the Mexican charro, Melesio Abelar, who, when 
he is not holding reflectors, plays the "bad man" 
of the episode. Under the fire-wor\s bull is Martin 
Hernandez. No artificial lighting was used in any 
of the scenes of "Que Viva Mexico!" 

Angle close-up 
from the sequence 
of the bull-fight in 
the episode called 

Photo by 





Millions of workers in the United States go to the 
picture theatres every week. The films shown at these 
theatres are turned out by half a dozen gigantic indus- 
tries which are owned and controlled by the bourgeois 
class. This class sees to it that American films reflect 
only capitalist "ideals" — ideals of business, of imperial- 
ism, of morality, of racial and national superiority. 

Although the workers and their families constitute 
almost nine-tenths of the audiences at the picture 
theatres, the American cinema does not concern itself 
with their life and problems. Economic exploitation, 
unemployment, the class war — all subjects of vital im- 
portance to the intelligent worker — are rigorously ex- 
cluded from the American screen. In this country, films 
are made to lull the working class into a state of mental 
vacuity, to take their minds from the dreary realities 
of every-day life. For a worker whose thoughts are 
occupied with the screen amours of Greta Garbo, or 
with the fascinating dramatic intricacies of Should 
Wives Tell? or Where's Your Husband? or Girls De- 
mand Excitement — such a worker is not likely to be- 
come a victim of radical propaganda, or a militant 
fighter for a new civilization. 

What does the American worker see when he goes 
to a picture show? The sex revels of the "upper" class; 
anatomical details of leading ladies; palatial dwellings 
inhabited by parasites who never work; gigolos, pimps, 
prostitutes; animated fashion-plates, both male and 
female; gangster warfare, with the goodlooking gang- 
ster ultimately reforming by becoming a respectable 
business man and marrying his employer's daughter; 
the life and adventures of a young widow who is left 
a million dollars, and who is bored with everything 
until she meets the right man — and so on, to the point 
of driveling imbecility. 

In connection with the feature picture, the worker 
also sees news-reels of the Pride of the Navy, the lat- 
est army equipment, commercialized sports, and the 
sweet face of some notorious political crook. He never 
sees a bread-line, or a strike. He never sees a whole 
family of starved working people thrown into the 
streets. He never sees the merciless exploitation of the 
masses of workers and farmers. He never sees the 
lynching of a Negro worker. He never sees a militant 
demonstration of his class and the sickening brutality 
of capitalism's cossacks — the police. If such films are 
ever made, they are never released. 

The ruling class of ancient Rome, when their power 
was threatened by proletarian uprisings, appeased 
their slaves by providing them with free bread and cir- 
cuses — panem et circenses. The American ruling class 
provide their wage-slaves with the mediocrity and 
filth that emanate from Hollywood. But there is this 
difference: our modern slaves pay for their own debase- 

The Russian film is a glorious contrast. Russia is 
the only country where films are made of the very sub- 

stance of life. There is no romanticising, no glossing 
over the facts of daily existence. The cinema industry 
of the Soviet Union is owned and controlled by the 
workers themselves, as are all other enterprises of the 
country. The Soviet film is looked upon as a powerful 
medium for culture and progress. It deals with the 
vital problems of the toiling masses, with science, 
hygiene, collectivization, the housing problem, the 
Five- Year Plan, with the Revolution, the class-war. 
In the Soviet Union films are not used as a soporific 
to dull the workers' minds, but rather to stimulate 
them to renewed effort and achievement, for the pur- 
pose of raising their own standard of life. They are 
shown in factories, on farms, in schools and theatres, 
wherever workers or their children gather. 

The cultural film of Soviet Russia is totally different 
from the purely commercial film of America. The Rus- 
sian workers, who control the film output, are tre- 
mendously interested in creadng and disseminating 
things worthwhile, because they know that they them- 
selves will immediately benefit therefrom. Nothing is 
too good for them. In addition to satisfying their eco- 
nomic requirements, they want the best in art, litera- 
ture, the drama and the cinema. Bolshevik Russia is 
the only country on earth that has an artistic censorship. 
And it is the literate worker himself who is his own 
censor. Moscow is the only city which has a film uni- 
versity, where students must study for several years 
every possible aspect of cinematographic production 
before they are permitted to engage in any important 
film activity, such as photography, writing or directing. 

In America the artistic quality of a picture, 
its fidelity to life, is a mere secondary considera- 
tion, if, indeed, it is any consideration at all. The 
commercial nature of the American film is only 
too obvious from the moment the scenario is written 
and accepted to the moment the finished product is 
released for universal consumption. Artisdc integrity 
means nothing to the average American director. It 
is merely a question of box-office. In fact, the over- 
whelming majority of American directors, whose 
pathetic duty it is to turn out Hollywood masterpieces, 
are altogether unaware of the almost limitless poten- 
tialities of their own medium. Many of them are es- 
sentially illiterate men, who have been elevated to their 
positions because of kinship or "pull" and not because 
they have shown any genuine aptitude for their pro- 
fession. They have not the slightest conception of 
rhythm, montage, photographic and dramatic values, 
or of any of the basic ingredients of good film-tech- 
nique. And behind the directors stand the supervisors 
and general managers — ci-devant pants-pressers and 
nickelodeon proprietors, who are profoundly moved 
by only one thing: the acquisition of sizeable fortunes. 
And then behind the supervisors and general man- 
agers, stands the sinister power of entrenched privilege 
— the bankers, the financiers, the successful racketeers 




The Merseyside Workers' Film Society 

Nearly two years ago a conference of socialist teach- 
ers decided to show, during the course of their meet- 
ings at Birkenhead, a film called A Journey to Soviet 
Russia. The film was banned on some pretext by the 
local authorities and it was never shown. But the teach- 
ers called their friends and neighbors and out of their 
protest grew the Merseyside Workers' Film Society. 

Only those who have some knowledge of the hostil- 
ity on the part of the English authorities to films, to 
Russia, and to workers, can realize what difficulties 
the Society struggles against and with what pride it 
now points to its achievements over the past two sea- 
sons. These include the gathering together of a mem- 
bership of some 500 people, the holding of 15 perform- 
ances at monthly intervals at a charge of ten shillings for 
a season's membership, and the showing of all the great 
Soviet films, whether banned or not, with the exception 
of Ten Days That ShooJ{ the World. 

It is only quite recently that Soviet films have been 
finding their way into England and getting past the 
Censorship, and even yet Potemfyn remains banned 
and has never been publicly shown. It was a great tri- 
umph for Merseyside when our first banned film — 
New Babylon — ran through the projector and when 
Potemhjn itself was put on in a crowded hall. 
Russian films, German films, any films of intel- 
ligence have extreme difficulty in getting through to 
the public in England. If they negotiate the Censor 
successfully they have still to face the neglect of the 
renters. So that for the ordinary person there is posi- 
tively no chance of seeing such masterpieces as Earth, 
The General Line, Storm Over Asia, except in the pri- 
vate societies. And private societies — especially when 
they included the word "workers" in their name — are 
faced with almost insurmountable difficulties. 

In England, power over film-shows rests with the 
local authorities. The Censor has no official standing, 
chough in practice his word is law. But local authori- 
ties may override his decisions and private societies 
can sometimes persuade their local magistrates to sanc- 
tion a private performance. But here the chief of the 

of our modern world, who dictate all ultimate policies. 
The Soviet film is frankly "propaganda" — propa- 
ganda against ignorance and superstition, against capi- 
talism and wage-slavery, propaganda for the better life, 
for Communism. The American film is also "propa- 
ganda" — propaganda for ignorance and superstition, 
for vulgarity and moral degradation — in short, pro- 
paganda for capitalism. Unlike our films, the Soviet 
cinema is made to educate the workers, to make them 
aware of their historic mission in creating the society 
of the future — the Soviet Union of the World. And 
this educative intent is more than a vague aspiration. 
For Storm Over Asia, Old and New, Potemhjn, The 
End of St. Peterburg, Soil, China Express, and many 
other Soviet films are enduring monuments of the new 
proletarian culture. 


local fire-brigade steps in. Unless the building in which 
the film is shown complies with very stringent fire- 
regulations, no film-shows are allowed. And since 
normally the only buildings which do so comply are 
commercial movie-houses, our Society must hire one. 
But the only day on which a cinema is free for private 
use is a Sunday, and here the law steps in with a 
Seventeenth Century act and forbids Sunday perform- 
ances! Apart from fire-regulations, authorities have 
little control over films, but these regulations are suffi- 
cient to enable a political censorship to be exercised. 

Merseyside has been lucky. Liverpool possesses 
two halls which satisfy the fire-brigade, but are not 
licensed cinemas. Here is a loop-hole, and here the 
films have been shown, badly and uncomfortably it is 
true, with a single projector with its waits between 
reels, with a screen which gets itself into pleats, with 
hard seats on a level floor — but what odds a few draw- 
backs ? 

The adventures of the early days are worth recall- 
ing. After two shows an avalanche descended — the 
films had been Two Days and Tur^-Sib. The hall — 
a theatre run by the University Setdement — refused 
permission for further performances; the press conduct- 
ed a campaign against what they called the subversive 
character of the society, and the secretary was forced 
to resign by his employers. Then came a show in a 
cinema closed for a few days while talkies were in- 
stalled, and then an application to the magistrates for 
Sunday performances — refused, of course. Permission 
to use a hall belonging to the city was sought and re- 
fused, but at last fortune, in the shape of the local 
Co-operative Society, smiled and produced the uncom- 
fortable but fire proof hall in which present shows 
are given. But even they are limited in number by 
certain obscure local by-laws. 

So, to be an intelligent worker cinema-goer in En- 
gland is not easy. A bourgeois film-society in London 
with expensive rates and a high-sounding committee 
gets privileges the workers' societies are denied. But, 
nevertheless, the work goes on. 

The future holds prospects of further difficulties. 
Talkies impose a financial strain almost unbearable, 
while the standard of production is definitely too low, 
and Russia, the home of worker-art, has still to send 
us the results of her latest experiments. But the art 
of the silent screen is not yet exhausted, while En- 
gland teems with cinema material waiting to be fixed 
in celluloid by a future worker-director of a worker- 
production unit. A start has already been made by the 
Federation, and shortly Merseyside's docks and dock- 
ers with their manifold problems will be screened by 
the Merseyside Society. And strikes and bread lines and 
unemployed marches will be woven into great works 
of revolutionary movement. But what will the Cen- 
sor say? Perhaps by then he will have followed the 
gold standard into oblivion! 



With as yet no evidence of Soviet achievement in the 
sound cinema, * those in America who have been look- 
ing for the talkie to vindicate itself have watched with 
interest the efforts of other European studios to solve 
the problems of the microphone and sound track be- 
fore the genius of the Soviet directors determines the 
new esthetic of the film. However, not much of value 
has been forthcoming, for the Germans have lost them- 
selves in the slough of musical comedy, while the 
French cannot free themselves from slavish imitation 
of American commercial methods. Das Maedel von der 
Reeperbahn, hailed as a masterpiece of the continent, 
failed to find a synthesis of the traditional intimate 
film and the new operetta style despite its remarkable 
contrast of two types of woman. 

Among the most recent of European importations 
are Rene Clair's Le Million and G. W. Pabst's Die 
Drei Groschenoper. In both films one can see the di- 
rector feeling his way from situation to situation with 
no sure hand, drawing from his fund of resources with 
almost no sense of unity of style or dynamic structure. 
Yet both are brilliant for what they are intended to 
be, even though that accomplishment is a violation of 
the true dialectics of the film. 

Clair's film does not pretend to be anything more 
than an entertainment along the lines of the director's 
peculiar talent — a penchant for satiric wit. It follows 
the conventional "chase" pattern immortalized by 
Mack Sennett's cop comedies and, indeed, shows no 
great advance over them in the realization of cinematic 
values. Its constant straining after effect grows in- 
creasingly irritating as one becomes aware that the 
things Clair is ridiculing are so very easily disposed 
of, if not taken for granted and pushed off to one side 
to make room for greater problems. Then, too, it is 
all only good-natured spoofing, never far from pathos 
that is inherent in the loving care with which each 
type is characterized. Purely bourgeois in its appeal, 
Le Million often approaches infantile humor when it 
is supposed to be witty. Technically, it is a concession 
to popular taste, deserting many of the mounting 
achievements of the same director's Sous les Toits de 
Paris. In seeking to shift emphasis the director often 
loses himself in the contemplation of documentary 
material. The dialogue and action sequences are not 
well spaced, and the alternate use of descriptive sound 
with lip-moving pantomine (influence of Mickey 
Mouse Cartoons here) and scenes full of recorded 
phrases, breaks up the tonal rythm, for the effect is 
invariably that certain stretches of sound track have 
been "dubbed." The scenario-construction is very poor. 

If Clair's film can be excused as just a fantastic 
comedy with music, Die Drei Groschenoper cannot be 
passed off so lighdy, for it presents itself potentially as "a 
film for the revolutionary." There have even been 
rumors that it was accepted in Berlin as a piece of 
Communist propaganda masking as a modernization 

of John Gay's The Beggars' Opera. Certain it is that 
it has not caused any great excitement so far in New 
York and that is not entirely due to the astuteness 
of the American people. The film does not render hom- 
age to the powers that be, but neither does it sympa- 
thize with the exploited underdog. It is entirely lack- 
ing in humanity and is painfully mocking in its over- 
tones. Even its humor is vicious in its implications and 
the impersonal detachment with which the grim march 
of the beggars is presented indicates a fatalistic accept- 
ance of diseased social conditions. Here is no insistent 
dialectics of an Eisenstein, no lyrical perspective of a 
Pudovkin, no poetic vision of a Dovzhenko, but the 
masochistic clairvoyance of a man who feels the death- 
ratde in the throat of capitalistic society. The revenge- 
ful king of the beggars incites the blind plodding mass- 
es to a rebellious march that disperses the dummy 
superiority of royalty, but as the sullen protest- 
ants disappear down the empty streets their revolt be- 
comes a mere gesture. For now the true rulers are 
revealed, secure in their power, as the racketeer and 
the chief of police. Together with the beggar king, 
whose feint has been successful, they plan the future 
exploitation of the frustrated masses. There is no way 
out, this thing must go on forever as long as he lives. 
Such is the ideology of Die Drei Groschenoper. 

How this can be misconstrued as Communist pro- 
paganda is hard to see. True, Pabst is merciless in 
drawing the rapacious character of his racketeers and 
unhesitant in depicting the bloody corruption of the 
police, but instead of using the true working-class as 
his foils, he holds up the grotesque mirror of its slum 
proletariat — the economic misfit who in turn lives on 
the parasitic capitalist. There is something diabolically 
cruel about the baroque spirit which pervades the film, 
and yet it is successful in capturing the baffling aspect 
that contemporary life must have for a bourgeois in- 
tellectual disgusted with the world. 

Unfortunately, the film's unity suffers from the 
taint of operetta interpolations and often Pabst is com- 
pelled to forsake his devotion to the filmic representa- 
tion of mind and motivation in order to convey the 
sentiment of actional incident. 

Just how much the society within which the creators 
of these two films worked is responsible for their lack 
of social conscience is hard to say. But satire should 
at least contain some dialectic analysis of existing con- 
ditions and it is doubtful if the unscrupulousness of 
Pabst is not invidious in its suggestion and false empha- 
sis. What is lacking is the purposeful intent of the 
Soviet film which does not need to protect itself, but 
only to improve society. 

*Editor Note: As this goes to press, word comes from the Soviet 
Union of the immense success of the two new sound films: The 
Road to Life and the Kozintstov-Trauberg production, Alone. 
These two films are said to have started the long-awaited revolu- 
tion in the use of sound. 




Translated by Christel Gang from German Original 



That this picture, which by way of filmic concept 
offered exceptional values, had no effect on the broad 
masses, is in all probability due to the fact that in the 
filmic-dramatic treatment a compromise was made: its 
theme was vested with unfinished, half-solved psycho- 
logical prblems. 

On the one hand, the expansive Dostoievskian ideo- 
logy was compressed into a general formula of appeal, 
and on the other hand, as a result of this procedure, 
all deeper contact with the psychological development 
of the theme was lost. For this reason the bare, crys- 
tallized action of the film, a murder affair, touched 
on the original idea only in its high spots and made 
various longer or shorter cross-cuts through the straight 
line of concept, as well as through the physical action, 
of the novel itself. 

Of course, this rationalization of the material for 
purposes of filmic adaptation was unavoidable — a hy- 
pothetical necessity. This immediately raises the ques- 
tion of how far it is possible to present filmically, that 
is, to do filmic justice to a literary work of such 
scope as The Brothers Karamazov. Regardless of the 
philosophical power of its dialectical comment, this 
dimensional structure of Dostoievsky's novel demands 
its definite mode of action — for the many episodes, 
cross-cuts of narrative and various interruptive tales 
are the trunks and branches of the tree, and these re- 
sult in that vast expansion which, in the final analysis, 
is experienced as a pleasant release, even though it 
may not be felt as a necessity compellingly bound to 
the structure. 

That Fedor Ozep, the creator of this film, was fully 
aware of the enormous difficulties confronting him in 
the filmic presentation of this powerful material is 
clearly evident in the fact that his film does not bear 
the title of the novel, The Brothers Karamazov, but 
instead is called The Murderer Karamazov. Further- 
more, in the credit-title the picture is announced as a 
"Treatment of the Novel of Dostoievsky"; and, fin- 
ally, Ozep borrowed only such themes from the ori- 
ginal as contained purely motoric and dynamic ele- 
ments. This forced a change of values and established 
a new ideology — in short, a film which had little, 
if anything, in common with its literary antecedent, 
or better, which dared not have such a relationship. 

Thus, the frequently undertaken experiment to pre- 
sent literary works in their completeness on the screen, 
must again be accepted negatively. However, if this 
film is reviewed critically in the light of its purely 
cinematic content and considered on the basis of its 
elementary filmic legitimacy, which is essential to cine- 
ma-art, the results immediately become positive. 

Recognizing Ozep as a product of the strictly scien- 
tific Soviet film-school, we have in him a film director 
of highly individual mold. We are dealing here with 


a man of great skill who has conquered the A-B-C 
of montage and permeated it with his own genius 
and creative power. 

Not once are we conscious in this film of a deliber- 
ately placed design; never are we aware of the move- 
ment of the camera, nor do we feel that the racing, 
staccato cuts of the carriage-ride, for example, are 
merely a display of acquired knowledge. Throughout 
the picture, the harmony of image-values is consum- 
ated in a perfect symphony. The camera is ever the 
experiencing eye of the spectator, or the piercing vision 
of the protagonist himself. At all times the complete 
collectivism of the filmic apparatus is under the domi- 
nant control of the director. 

With sweeping brush-strokes the opening sequence 
is depicted. 

First various placements of a locomotive in deep 
night atmosphere. Smoking funnel, wheels, the engine 
(boiler), then the moving semaphores. In each image, 
steam and smoke in action. These image-values blend 
together in organic sequence. Then we see and hear 
an accordion, its rhythm replacing the previous metric 
musical accompaniment which accentuated the pre- 
ceding scenes. 

Without seeing the railroad station or the train in 
totality, nor the rails leading into some landscape, by 
this means of analytical montage-forms we are fami- 
liarized with the whole location and atmosphere. 

Special emphasis is placed particularly on the loco- 
motive. It is a symbol of power. It takes on an over- 
tonal significance, creating a thought-association with 
the action that follows (Dmitri's farewell to Katha- 

The scant dialogue, which serves to explain the 
reason of Dmitri's departure — (a trip to his father to 
gain consent to marry Katharina and thus secure 3000 
rubles) — is strengthened by these specific image-values 
of the locomotive. Panting, boiling, spouting steam, 
the locomotive represses its power until the conduc- 
tor's signal designates the starting-time. 

The semaphores begin to move, and again we see, 
in detail, the specific parts of the locomotive. More 
smoke and steam come into view, and as the locomo- 
tive gradually moves out of the picture, we quickly 
switch to the action. Dmitri hurriedly, as his train 
starts slowly in motion, grabs a huge bouquet of 
flowers from a little flower-girl standing in the fore- 
ground. He gives these flowers to Katharina, embraces 
and kisses her, and jumps on the platform of the train, 
which, speeding up in tempo, pulls out of the screen. 

Motionless, arms limp at her side, Katharina stands 
there, with her back to the camera. (This static pos- 
ture and demeanor of Katharina is maintained through 
the whole film.) And as the last coach with its tail- 
light disappears into the distance and in the back- 

ground reigns complete darkness, the flower-girl 
standing on the right side of the picture-frame steps 
up to Katharina and draws here attention to the fact 
that "the lieutenant forgot to pay for the flowers." 

Katharina gives her the amount. And with this the 
first sequence closes. 

Dmitri's trip serves the purpose of sustaining, or 
conveying, the tension through the lap dissolve into 
the next sequence. 

Location: His father's estate. Introduction of Ivan, 
the servant Smerdyakov, and the old man, awaiting 
the visit of Gruschenka. This filmically plastic creation 
of the old Karamazov is superb. His crude directness 
establishes him as the strongest figure and as the 
center of the action. The old man is an autocrat of 
licentiousness, a monarch whose unbroken nature 
knows no partiality. Deeply convinced of the utility 
of immorality, he drinks in life like a draught of cog- 
nac. Only the most expressive elements are used and 
effectively sketched in the portrayal of his character. 

In contrast to the long shot of the vast entrance-hall, 
shown at full range, in the old man's room only single 
objects are touched upon. The room in its totality is 
never shown. A table with tid-bits is painstakingly 
arranged (seen from above, downward) and becomes 
the visual center of the scene. A set table and antici- 
pation. An ikon, characterizing splendidly the vitality 
and the shrewd religiosity of the old fellow. The 
flame of ilfe still flickers. (And how it flickers!) A lace 
ornamented bed-cover has been drawn back and the 
silken bedding lies open, pointing to the sexual con- 
templations of the old libertine. In various placements, 
we see him resdessly pacing the floor. He is full of 
eager expectation. His hands move nervously about 
the table, making a few quick adjustments. 

Now the action changes to exteriors on the street. 
A pouring rain is indicated in a few specific medium 
closeups. Rain on the front porch, rain from the water- 
spout, rain in the gutter. The mood of rain assumes 
a dramatic significance. Then, in medium shot, we 
see the entrance to the mansion. A carriage (focus, 
side-view) drives up. This placement shows merely 
the lower parts of the carriage. The horses' legs, 
wheels and carriage-step, Dmitri's legs, as they step 
from the carriage, come into the field of vision. Then 
cut, seen from above, across the driver's back, toward 
Dmitri. He pays the driver his fee, and the carriage 
drives out of scene. Dmitri walks up to the entrance 
and pulls the bell-strap. Cut to closeup of the bell in 
the interior of the hallway, as it rings. Reaction of 

The huge, massive door of the interior, securely 
locked and bolted with a heavy iron rod, serves as a 
symbol of the greed and avarice of the elder Karama- 
zov. In great excitement, with trembling hands, he 
pours a glass of champagne. He thinks: "Who can 
this be? It must be Gruschenka, of course!" 

Then, in the spacious hallway, Smerdyakov comes 
walking stealthily toward the door. He steps out of 
frame. The movement is repeated in medium closeup 
as he reappears immediately in front of the enrance 
door. He opens the big lock and lifts the heavy iron 
bolt, not, however, before he has taken one last, criti- 
cally vain glance at himself in the mirror. (Gruschenka.) 

Dmitri enters through the open doorway and steps 
into the interior of the house. Disappointed surprise 

is clearly manifested by Smerdyakov and Ivan. After 
a short passage of dialogue, Dmitri walks toward the 
door of his father's room. The door opens and the 
old fellow stands radiantly on the threshold. He recog- 
nizes his son Dmitri. His joyous mood suddenly 
changes. His features become distorted into a reaction 
of disappointment and rage. Dmitri unsuspectingly 
takes the glass of champagne out of the old man's 
hand and empties it in one draught. Result: mutual 
misunderstanding produces short circuit and explosion 
within the elder Karamazov. 

The discussion that now follows between father and 
son occurs behind locked doors. We become aware of 
the conflict from the reactions of Smerdyakov and Ivan, 
who are listening in the big hallway. 

Without ever being able to understand a single word, 
we hear in this long shot the quarrel between the old 
fellow and Dmitri. The tempo of this incomprehen- 
sible dialogue rises rhythmically to a crescendo, skill 
fully interrupted by significant pauses. It reaches a 
raging furioso when the door opens abrupdy and 
Dmitri emerges in excited agitation. Through the 
half-open door he screams at the old fellow, whom we 
cannot see, that he (Dmitri) "will force a change in 
existing conditions. Just wait and see"; he "will go 
direcdy to Gruschenka." On the word "Gruschenka" 
the scene lap dissolves into her home. Dmitri asks 
to be admitted. 

With the fade-out from the Karamazov mansion, 
the cardinal point of the tragedy is established. 

The types in their various characteristics are reveal- 
ed one after another, in sequential orde,r and their 
temporary relations to each other unfold the carefully 
constructed framework behind the dramatic action. 
Here, dramaturgically speaking, the motive of the 
"deed" is for the first time defined. (Smerdyakov's 
words: "He will yet murder him.") 

The leading motive of the plot has been sketched. 
It proves of extraordinary advantage in the linking up 
and the dramatic evaluation of the plot, that the bro- 
thers Karamazov were formerly separated and meet 
here, for the first time, in the stifling atmosphere of 
the father's home. Later the old man's conduct leads 
them to an open utterance of their views. 

The role of the third son in the novel is dispensed 
with in the filmic adaptation, but is pardy substituted 
by Smerdyakov. He alone is made a confident to old 
Karamazov and serves as mediator between Dmitri 
and Ivan, two antagonistic elements, and between 
the hostile women, Katharina and Gruschenka, who 
in the later course of events widen the gap between 
the brothers. 

Dmitri at Gruschenka's house. At the entrance-door, 
the maid-servant tries to explain to Dmitri that it is 
impossible for Gruschenka to see him as she has visi- 
tors and is on the point of leaving. But Dmitri is obsti- 
nate and refuses to be turned away. The servant re- 
ports to her mistress. 

In medium shot we see Gruschenka surrounded by 
her friends as they prepare to leave. Indignant, she 
commands the servant not to admit this man under 
any conditions. 

Suddenly she stops in the midst of her speech and 
sees: Cut to medium close shot: Dmitri in the frame 
of the door. 


Cut to close shot: Gruschenka as seen from Dmitri's 
point of view. Cut back to Dmitri: his eyes drop slowly 
as they "size up" his opposite. 

This radical cut from Gruschenka and the surround- 
ing group to the closeup of Dmitri arouses in the 
spectator a sensation of Dmitri having been hurled 
into the room and the anticipation of an explosion to 
follow. However, nothing happens. Instead, Dmitri 
accepts, with the meekness of a lamb, Gruscbenka's 
mocking challenge to await her return to the apart- 
ment. Gayly, she tosses the remark at him: "If you 
want to wait? — but it may be very late!" 

This wide-treatment of "waiting" is symbolized by 
a bronze mantel-clock with a ball-shaped pendulum 
that moves in rotation. The rotating pendulum is later 
repeated in closeup. 

The dramaturgical structure of this scene is organ- 
ized in parallel lines. The one element is time as it 
passes — waiting; the other is accomplished through 
dialogue — the servant's story, which exposes Grus- 
schenka's past life to Dmitri. 

Late in the night Gruschenka returns to her apart- 
ment. Now comes the explosion. The big scene be- 
tween Gruschenka and Dmitri reveals for the first 
time the depths of her nature. 

Noteworthy in this scene is the direct (radical) cut 
to a closeup of an angora cat. Its existence was not 
established beforehand. The cat serves as first-class 
plastic material to express the catlike nature of Grus- 
chenka. Both values are mutually equivalent. 

The dramatic interpretation of Anna Sten, who with 
her art embodies the colorful character of Gruschenka 
to perfection, cannot be valued highly enough. It is 
fascinating to observe how she makes use of a picture 
of Katharina, which has dropped from Dmitri's pocket, 
and lets it serve as a means of practising her wiles on 
him. She is all winning smiles, promises and softest 
allurement one minute ,and the mewing, striking, pri- 
mitive, cat-nature the next. 

As she leaps on the chair, we reach the climax — 
the kiss. This struggle for the kiss is most provocatively 
and effectively handled by means of a series of flash- 
cuts in medium shot. 

The constant pattering of the night rain as it rattles 
against the window-panes serves as a visual counter- 
point to the erotically laden atmosphere of the interior. 

The strongest and most expressive moment of the 
film is Dmitri's departure at early dawn. 

Ozep works here with overtones and uses the play 
of nature's elements for the structure of Dmitri's mood 
and his emotional reactions. 

Exterior: Entrance to Gruschenka's house. Medium 
close shot on Dmitri. Behind him the door swings 
shut. He takes a step forward. Lost in thought, he 
removes his cap. His dazed eyes glance up. 

Cut to open sky. Cut back to Dmitri. Cut to morn- 
ing landscape. Nature breathes. The night's rain still 
lingers in the trees. Cut back to Dmitri. He takes a 
deep breath. His glance goes heavenward. Again the 
sky and passing clouds. Then a bush. In its branches 
drops of water that glisten like diamonds. Close shot 
on the drops of water. They fall to the ground. Cut 
back to Dmitri in medium closeup. He becomes aware 
of the waterspout as a small stream dribbles down from 
the roof. He stretches out his hand. Lets it fill up and 
thoughtfully cools his brow. 


In totality shot, Dmitri cleanses himself of the night; 
he wanders out into the fresh morning air, prepared 
for the day. 

The gripping effect of these scenes is by no means 
evoked by the esthetic value of these nature-images, 
but is produced by use of "overtonal montage," which 
emerges as a living symbol between the image-values, 
that is, within the picture-cut. 

A symbol is vital, significant, when it presents the 
best chosen, highest possible expression of the antici- 
pated vision, of facts not known, or but vaguely known, 
to the spectator. Under these conditions, the symbol 
effects "unconscious" participation. It formulates an 
act of "unconsciousness." The more general this act 
becomes, the more general, the broader, becomes its 
sphere of reaction, for it touches in everyone a fami- 
liar note. 

The structure of the preceding sequence deals with 
three phases of the dramatic line-up: 
i. Dmitri — Katharina 

2. Dmitri — Father 

3. Father — Gruschenka — Dmitri 

As the action of the film, after the "raindrop scenes" 
moves increasingly into a gigantic mass of conflicts, 
and the prescribed length of a commercial film does 
not permit it to do full justice to these conflicts by 
developing them along the line of a strictly Dostoi- 
evskian interpretation, from now on the film loses 
somewhat its power of impression and it does not in- 
tensify itself again until it comes to the sequence of 
the "night of the murder." 

However, if we wish to split up these manifold se- 
quences, it is possible to describe superficially this in- 
creasingly powerful flow of action as the phases of: 

4. Murder 

5. Court-trial 

6. Gruschenka — Dmitri 

Moving-camera shots have become a fad in Holly- 
wood. With very few exceptions, the camera is at all 
times in motion: it turns, lifts, lowers, etc. Very rarely, 
however, have these Hollywood camera-movements 
any organic connection with the content of the scene. 
They are a form of cheap exhibitionism, not used of 
necessity, but because of a craving for vulgar, gaudy 
showing-off. Static placements connected by direct cuts 
would be far more plausible than these contortioned 
methods, which merely weaken the desired impres- 

In contrast to this, when Ozep sets his camera 
in motion in Kaiamazov, he has good reason for do- 
ing so. His camera-movements are in the highest de- 
gree organically related to the content. The results 
obtained by Ozep in the instances where his camera 
moves are results that could not be so simply achieved 
by static placements (direct cuts). His movements 
dovetail and melt into the scene. Ozep permits his 
camera to step into action only when through its move- 
ment, the rhythmic line of the filmic whole is advanced 
and the harmonious building-up of the complete struc- 
ture is thereby guaranteed. 

An example of an Ozep camera-movement: 

With a fade-in, we see in closeup, in a mirror, a 
contortioned reflection of someone's head. The camera 
moves backwards. We become aware that the surface 
of the mirror is the glistening roundness of a samovar. 

The camera moves on. The back of a waiter steps into 
frame; we recognize his head as the one reflected in 
the mirrored surface of the samovar. With childish 
vanity, he examines his hair-comb. With his right hand 
he adjust the line of the part. With the left hand he 
holds a service-tray. In waiter-fashion, he pulls it up 
high. A few glasses, filled to the brim, come into 
frame. He skilfully balances the tray above his shoul- 
ders and walks with hasty steps toward the farthest 
end of the picture. At closeup range, the camera fol- 
lows behind the waiter, throughout the room. In the 
composition of the frame we see the waiter's head, 
shoulders and the tray. In the distant background, 
through a doorway, we see the interior of a billiard- 
room. The waiter enters this room. The camera fol- 
lows him and then stops, as the waiter steps up to 
Dmitri and serves him a drink. 

Samovar — vanity of waiter — drinks — spaciousness 
of room — guests — in a word, the entire scenic atmo- 
sphere is effectively compressed into one single place- 
ment and the nervous restlessness of Dmitri, by means 
of this camera-obj edification, is illustrated for the 

Ozep, in particular, lays great stress on the compo- 
sitional value of the scent. All optical appearances — 
architecture — furniture — objects of all kinds, are in 
every case placed as advantageously as possible in the 
picture-frame, so that they accentuate the content of 
the scenic action. Ozep forces the spectator to see only 
that which is absolutely necessary for his understand- 
ing or that which is later to refresh his memory. All 
other elements are ruthlessly discarded and eliminated 
from the picture. Only the most important, which con- 
tains positive significance for the scenic content at 
hand, is thrown into strong relief. 

For the picturization of the night of the murder, 
Ozep resorts to the three "notorious" dashes of Dostoi- 
evskian fame, the use of which brought upon the 
great Russian author severe criticism for having touch- 
ed on the technique of a mediocre detective-novel. 
These dashes are cheap as they cause the reader to pass 
through unsolved tension and cunningly leave him at 
a loss as to who it was that committed the murder. 
Ozep also makes use of this sensational "WHO"? He 
poses it as a formal question here, as a formal question 
there. But at least Ozep's film-dramaturgy justifiies 
this particular application of the method. 

Ozep builds the Russian landscape into the murder- 
affair. Nature's elements serve as putty and cement 
for the construction of supermundane realities. Moon- 
light-night — a tree stump — a howling dog — a bush — 
the illumined window — wind — blowing curtains — the 
fence — the man — the entire scene is enveloped in an 
uncanny atmosphere. Everything is charged with a pre- 
monitory sense of weird happenings. 

This "overtonal" montage of the murder-night 
(Mordnacht-montage) Ozep also applies to Dmitri's 
night-ride in the carriage. This episode starts slowly 
in long shot. As the camera turns about, gradually, 
in the distance the carriage comes into view. The ele- 
ments of the picture carriage — horses — avenue — trees 
— tree-trunks — tree-top s — s k y — landscape — h o r s e s — 
horses' legs — driver — drive whipping up the horses — 
by degrees fall into a speeding-up, racing staccato of 
flash cuts. All becomes a mad race, a raving, scream- 

ing; in short, a perfect symbol of Dmitri's inner tur- 
moil and his yearning to get to Gruschenka, speedily, 

His arrival at the pleasure-house and his search for 
Gruschenka are magnificendy solved by means of 
image-technique. The camera follows his every step 
through the various rooms and delicately accentuates 
his nervous impatience. The erotic atmosphere violent- 
ly increases its pressure until Karamazov finally dis- 
covers Gruschenka on the upper floor, side by side 
with her former lover. 

Then lightning strikes as Dmitri's chambre-separee 
blissfulness is abruptly cut short by a harsh knock from 
the police. 

Ozep's exceptional filmic insight proclaims itself 
also in the extremely clever weighing of the image and 
sound values. The image-conception always comes 
first. The dialogue is reduced to a minimum, and 
sound and music are artfully applied as an accentua- 
tion of the visualization-process. (Cf. sound-treatment 
of kettle-drum and bells in the long carriage-ride.) 
It should, however, be mentioned that the hellish 
tempo of the carriage-ride and the orgy of intoxica- 
tion occupy too great a space in the rhythmic con- 
struction of the whole, and take the breath away, so to 
speak, from the court-room scene, which should really 
have been the high point of the film since it contains the 
denouement and the untangling of the story's threads. 
Here, Ozep missed a wonderful opportunity for a 
rhythmically organized, logical decomposition of the 
tension. Though he carried the action of Ivan-Smerdy- 
akov in a parallel line with the court scenes, it never- 
thless ended in a blind alley, for Smerdyakov's appear- 
ance at court does not enter the field of vision, despite 
the fact that by means of Smerdyakov's confession that 
he himself is the murderer of the elder Karamazov, 
Smerdyakov without anything further becomes the 
conveyor of tention of the whole situation. 
Example of the parallel action: 
Court-trial — Ivan at Smerdyakov's 
Court-trial — Smerdyakov confesses 
Court-trial — Ivan and Smerdyakov on the way 
to the court-house 

Court-trial — Ivan and Smerdyakov at the en- 
trance of the court-house 
Court-trial — Ivan steps up to the judge 
in the ante- 
room — Court-Trial; Ivan reveals. 
without Smer- 
dyakov — Court-trial; clerk announces to the 
judge the suicide of Smerdyakov. 
The end of the film bursts out into a refrain which 
thematically is a pure adaptation of Tolston. 

With sweeping brush-strokes Dmitri's deportation 
and Gruschenka's voluntary accompaniment of him 
into exile, are depicted. A locomotive is ready to go. 
Smoking funnel, wheels, the engine (boiler), then 
the moving semaphores, — in short, all the image-ele- 
ments of the beginning of the film are repeated, until 
finally the trains pulls out. Behind an iron-grated win- 
dow, Dmitri; on the platform of the end car, Grus- 
chenka; and then train pulls out, panting, boiling, 
steaming into the landscape, toward Siberia. 



Translated for "Experimental Cinema" by 

Abel Plenn 



The Cine Club of Mexico has been organized and 
affiliated with the Film Society of London and with 
the League of Cine Clubs of Paris. Its program is the 
same as that of the cine clubs throughout the world, 
but it is especially akin to the Spanish Cine Club which 
has achieved great success in the two years of its 

The essential points of its program are: (i) to pro- 
cure the showing of good European, American and 
Asiatic vanguard films; (b) to establish the educational 
cinema, with special attention to the systematic show- 
ing of scientific films; (c) to study the History of the 
Cinema by means of film-exhibits dealing with the 
cinema in retrospect; (d) to hold lectures on the esthe- 
tic, scientific and social importance of cinematography; 
(e) to create a favorable atmosphere out of which a 
Mexican cinema art may emerge. 

The Mexican Cine Club will follow the plan of the 
successful foreign cine clubs in linking its activities 
with a conscientious study of our necessities. Its pur- 
pose is highly social and not lucrative. 

The Executive Committee of the Cine Club is com- 
prised of the following: 

Art Director: Bernardo Ortiz de Montellano. 

Technical Director: Emilio Amero. 

Secretaries of Finance: Manuel Alvarez Bravo 

Maria Izquierdo. 
Sec'y of Propaganda: Carlos Merida. 
Directors: Maria M. de Alvarez Bravo and Ro- 
berto Montenegro. 
General Secretary: Agustin Aragon Leiva. 
The organizers of the Cine Club are among the 
most serious-minded writers, artists, journalists and 
critics in Mexico, who have been able to see that our 
environment is a sufficiently cultured and mature to 
make possible the existence of a Cine Club whose 
prime mission is to give the cinema the place which 
it deserves as a powerful vehicle of culture. 

In order to make known the circumstances which 
have determined the creation of the Cine Club and to 
point out the details of its program, these organizers 
will shortly circulate a manifesto calling for general 
active cooperation in the establishment and function- 
ing of the Mexican Cine Club. 

By-laws of the Mexican Cine Club 
Article 1. The Cine Club'i social residence will be in Mexico 

Article 2. The object of the Cine Club is: 

(a) to show films, provided by the Film Society of 
London, the International League of Cine Clubs, the 
Film Amateurs' League and similar organizations as well 
as films which in the opinion of the Cine Club directors 
merit consideration at the Club's sessions. To cooperate 
in the establishment of a Mexican cinematography. 

(b) to show factory-films of high artistic quality, either 
at the expense of the Cine Club itself or in combination 
with some promoting management. 

(c) to organize lectures and publish articles and critical 
reviews on cinematography. 

(d) to work for the establishment of the educational cine- 
ma by means of scientific films; to see that the social 
function which cinematography can fulfill be mede effect- 
ive in Mexico. 

Article 3. The Mexican Cine Club proposes to work together 
with the foreign cine clubs, but at the same time to 
investigate the problems of its own surroundings. 

Article 4. The Cine Club will be comprised of an unlimited 
number of members. These will be divided into active 
members and subscrbing members. Active members and 
subscribers will pay the same amount of dues and will 
enjoy equal rights, but active members will be given 
various duties to fulfill. 

Article 5. Active members are obliged to cooperate by means of 
work and commissions toward the development of the 
Cine Club. Their number will be unlimited, but every 
candidate for membership must be proposed by two active 
members in good standing and be passed upon by the 
respective committee. 

Article 6. Any person, without distinction of nationality or 
social category, may become a subscribing member of the 
Cine Club. 

Article 7. Active and subscribing members of the Cine Club have 
the following social rights: (a) to attend all the cinema- 
tographic sessions of the Cine Club; (lb) to enjoy any 
privilege which the Cine Club may obtain for its mem- 

Article 8. The sessions of the Cine Club will be of two kinds: 
business and cinematographic. Only active members will 
be entitled to attend the former. The cinematographic 
sessions will be held at stated intervals, preferably every 
month as soon as this is possible. They will consist of 
the howing of films, of short lectures, reading of re- 
ports, suggestions, etc. 

Article 9. The cinematographic sessions will be public, and non- 
members will pay an admission charge. The difference 
between the total dues and that of the admission charges, 
together with the right to receive mai lat the club's post- 
office box, consiitute the member's privilege. 

Article 10. Those joining the Cine Club will pay a member- 
ship fee of one peso, Mexican silver currency, and 
monthly dues of one peso fifty centavos, Mexican silver 
currency. Payments will be made in advance. 

Article 11. Each member of the Cine Club will receive two 
tickets for every cinematographic session and a 25 percent 
discount on tickets obtained from non-members. 

Article 12. The administration of the Cine Club will be car- 
ried on through a Directorial Council consisting of an 
Art Director, a Technical Director, a General Secretary, 
two Secretaries of Finance, a Secretary of Propaganda 
and two Directors. This Council will be elected by the 
active members for a period of two yean. 

Article 13. When the Cine Club attains a membership of one 
thousand, it will form itself into a Cooperative Society, 

Article 14. The financial reserves which the Cine Club may pos- 
sibly own at some future date will be spent on artistic 
films to be produced by the Cine Club itself. 

Mexico City, June 4, 1931. 

General Sec'y., Agustin Aragon Leiva. 




Close up of Martin Hernandez, the Mexican-Indian 

Mexican peons, watching from a hilltop the passing funeral 


Russia's Youngest Film Director 

There is a curious tradition in the Hollywood movie- 
industry that in order to be able to direct films a man 
must be close to middle-age or beyond. Direction of 
feature films is considered to be a task beyond the 
power and capacity of young men and women in their 
early twenties. The case of Ilya Trauberg, however, 
gives the lie to the tradition, and, like so many other 
achievements of the Soviet cinema, it reveals again 
that the things which Hollywood says are "impossible" 
or "impractical," are both possible and practical. 

Ilya Trauberg is a graduate pupil of Eisenstein, — 
the latter's most renowned student. He is the youngest 
director in Russia, an outstanding example of how the 
Soviet Union encourages the development of young 
talent and gives it a chance to function. Here in capitalist 
America, the so-called "land of opportunity" (sic!), 
there is no chance whatever for working-class youth in 
the field of art. This is especially the case in the cinema, 
where the only opportunity for "youth" to function is in 
the eventuality of its being related to some powerful 
movie mogul. But then, the basic difference is one 
between sheer prostitution of brains and energy for 
vulgar commercial purposes on the one hand, and the 
utilization of energy for the creation of artistic master- 
pieces on the other hand. 

Thus, Trauberg, who is now twenty-five years of 
age, has made three films of eminent artistic import- 
ance: Metal, The Stormy Way, and China Express. His 
fourth picture is in production now. Of these three, 
China Express is the best known to the Western world. 
It was a first-rate success in Germany, England, other 
European countries, and in the United States. 

In a letter to the editors of Experimental Cinema, 
Trauberg gives some interesting information: 

"Though I am twenty-five years old, I have been 
working in the cinema for six years already, three of 
which I worked as a critic and theorist and during 


2. Trauberg's latest film, now in production. The 

film is as yet untitled. It deals with the approaching 
revolution in Europe. 

1. China Express. 

3. Metal. 

4. China Express. 

5. Ilya Zacharovitch Trauberg. 

6. Production-still from China Express. Trauberg is 

seated next to the camera. 

7. Herbert Marshall and Ilya Trauberg on a Soviet 

movie-set. Marshall, the English film-student, is work- 
ing with Trauberg as part of his course of study in 
the Moscow Cinema University. 

8. Stormy Way, Trauberg's first film (1028). 

9. China Express. 

this period was interested mosdy in American pictures. 
Under the guidance of Eisenstein, my outlook was 
changed and shaped. Only by working with him did I 
begin to understand — what cinema is. 

"My first independent work dates from 1928 — an edu- 
cational (culture) film, Stormy Way, the subject of 
which was the automobile industry and railroad-building 
in U.S.S.R. It was an attempt to wipe out the distinc- 
tion between "art films" and educational films. It was 
an attempt to create a genre of feuilleton. This task 
was fulfilled to a certain degree, in spite of many mis- 
takes. The genre is now widely established and used 
in Soviet cinema. 

"Next work: China Express. This seems to me to 
assemble all the sins and infatuations of my youth. 

"Later I created a long film (based on documents) 
— Metal, the subject of which was the Socialistic up- 
building of heavy industry. 

"Now I am engaged in talkies and tone-films. They 
give me the inspiration to learn and work anew. Great 
ideas, mostly concerning montage, which we want to 
fulfill in spite of very poor mechanical equipment, ex- 
cite us and force us to look at things from a new angle. 
In these questions I fully agree with the Manifesto on 
Sound by Eisenstein, which you no doubt know.* 

"A present I am writing a scenario about the psycho- 
logy of a European worker, who is nearing revolu- 
tion I am making a complete survey of my meth- 
od of creation, my views in all lines concerning mov- 
ing picture direction, beginning with the construction 
of the scenario to the composition of the "shot" and 
every small detail of the work. I am trying to find out 
new ways of expression, of emotional influence — more 
simple, more popular and more realistic. I am trying 
to resuscitate the genre of melodrama in order to serve 
the aims of our ideological understandings (princi- 
ples) The main figure of my picture is man, 

his psyche, his reconstruction."* * 

Trauberg is now working in the studios of Lenin- 
grad. His assistant is Herbert Marshall, a young En- 
glish student who went to Russia three years ago to 
study montage in the Moscow Film University. When 
Marshall has completed his apprenticeship with Trau- 
berg he will be given an opportunity to direct his own 

In an early issue, Experimental Cinema will publish 
an essay by Trauberg dealing with his directorial meth- 
ods and montage-conceptions. 

* Trauberg refers to the famous Manifesto on the Sound 
Film which was collectively written, signed and issued by 
Eisenstein, Alexandrov and Pudovkin last year. 
( * These quotations are from a personal letter that Trauberg 
sent to the editors of Experimental Cinema. The letter was 
written in English and the quotations arc exact excerpts from 
the main text of the letter. 





During the Revolution celebrations of November, 
there was shown in Moscow and Leningrad the third 
(following The Road to Life and Alone) big Soviet 
sound film, Mountains of Gold, or Golden Hills, di- 
rected by Jutkevitch. This picture was produced in the 
Leningrad Film Studios, which also made the sound 
film Alone and the silent film, China Express. 

In its silent sections, Mountains of Gold is greatly 
influenced by Pudovkin's silent films, Mother and The 
End of St. Petersburg. The types and the situations 
are very similar, although, of course, they are based 
direcdy on the history of a political strike in the big- 
gest metal-plant of old St. Petersburg, the Putilov- 
Works. If you would merely see the stills, you would 
think Jutkevitch is a second Pudovkin! 

What about the story itself? I shall quote to you 
what I wrote recently in the Moscow News: 

"The cast being limited to three characters 
only, the films offer great opportunities for "plot 
development." The films show two workers 
against the background of a large metal works 
in old Petersburg in the days before the World 

"The first is a class-conscious worker who un- 
derstands the conflicting interests of the capital- 
ists and the proletariat. The other, a peasant who 
has just been ruined by the local landowner, 
has come to town for the sole purpose of earning 
enough money to buy himself a horse and return 
to his native village. 

"However, as the plot unfolds itself, the class- 
conscious proletarian recognizes that although 
the boss of the works is his enemy, he bribes 
his servants with silver watches. 

"The silver watch becomes the leit-motif of 
the whole film. 

"The first worker, who has just received a sil- 
ver watch as a gift from the boss for betraying 
his fellow-workers, repairs to the nearest saloon 
and sings the song of the 'Golden Hills' — or the 
'Mountains of Gold' — that is, the mountains of 
gold which he will heap up while working for 
his boss." 
This, of course, is by no means a new idea. We saw 
it happen with Ivan, the hero of End of St. Peters- 
burg. But, of course, it has a very important political 
value: to show all young people how the situation was 
before the World War and the conditions under which 
the working class was living at that time. 

But the main power of the film is in the sound: 
the dialogue and the music. The complete text of the 
talk of the peasant, just coming from the village, was 
written by the great master of the Russian language, 
Chapigin (Leningrad). And the way in which this 
talk is used is very remarkable. There are long dia- 


logues, and also monologues, but they are never tire- 
some. Why? 

In answering this question, I shall first relate an ex- 
cellent observation made by the Soviet film-journalist, 
Leo Mur, during a discussion of talkies over the radio. 
He said that long speeches in themselves need not be 
so tiresome. We become tired, seeing long talkies, not 
by reason of the length of the speeches, but by reason 
of the length of the suitable silent part of the film — the 
photography. It is because, says Leo Mur, we "under- 
stand" (apprehend) those things which we see, much 
quicker than those which we hear. 

And so it really is. By vision, by purely visual means, 
we can project movement very easily, less easily, emo- 
tion; and with difficulty, thought. There are, though, 
more instances of the projection of thought in Soviet 
pictures, than in the pictures of America and other 
countries. And in speech, there is a big difference 
between renderng an emotion and a thought. The only 
thing is that we must expend more time and atten- 
tion than we do in conveying movement. 

But in the movie, we can connect the talk with 
vision, as we wish, and combine very rapid speech 
with speedy change of images. So it was done in 
Mountains of Gold, although not in a very pure and 
convincing form. 

For example — the worker, coming from the village, 
tells about the way his "farm" is managed. This is a 
monologue, and a very slow monologue. But it is not 
tiresome, because during this speech we see on the 
screen silent scenes about which the speech is con- 

This device is used through the bigger half of the 

The other device is the manner of using music. 
There is simple music, illustrating those things which 
we see on the screen. But it does not cease as the scene 
is finished. As in the art of fugue, the mutual pursuit 
of voices or parts (one of the most important forms 
of music) is continuous all through the film. It pro- 
vides a kind of background for the whole subject, and 
it illustrates the inner emotions of the players — and of 
the audience as well! In Mountains of Gold there is a 
double fugue, a fugue which begins with two parts 
and two subjects simultaneously. The one is the song, 
Mountains of Gold (based on the theme-idea of the 
picture); the other is a simple waltz for wind-orchestra, 
composed by Shostakovitsch. This one is the more 
important of the two. We hear them in beautiful grow- 
ing calm in the first scene, when the peasants are 
coming to the metal plant inquiring about some work. 
Then, in the scenes of bribery with the silver watch, 
the music meaows like a Hawaiian guitar. 

And at the end, in a furious fortisimo of the whole 
symphonic orchestra, it storms through the scene where 
the silver watch is hurled back at the boss. 

There are also some excellent scenes in a bar, where 
the drunken talk of the hero (he has just received the 
silver watch) is played against the background of 
the strongest old tsiganian (gypsy) romance-music. 

But it would take too long to relate everything 
about this film. It is more a work of art than The 
Road to Life and more popular than Alone. There 
is one outstanding fault in Mountains of Gold — some 
parts are too long. But I am sure Amkino will show 
it in California in more suitable length. In my opinion 
it would also be better named The Silver Watch or 
Silver Hills. 

The Road to Life and Alone are two big sound films 
which Amkino has not yet shown in America. * They 
are now making their trip from one European capital 
to another. The success of The Road to Life is tre- 
mendous. It is not only the first great Soviet sound 
film, but also the first Soviet box-office picture. It ran 
two months in one "movie palace" in Berlin, then 
several consecutive weeks in twenty-three other first- 
class Berlin theatres. There has been no equally artis- 
tic picture since the time of Storm Over Asia by Pudov- 

The young director of The Road to Life, Nicolai 
Ekk of Mezhrabpomfilm, was several years ago a sim- 
ple actor in Meyerhold's Theatre, just as the author 
of the scenario of Mountains of Gold was a movie- 
architect and director of small, and esthetically "dry," 
films, without subject matter. 

What are we waiting to see on the screen during 
the next few months? 

The next big picture will be The House of the Dead, 
produced by Mezhrabpomfilm studios. It is being di- 
rected by Federov,* a former assistant of Meyerhold. 
The continuity of this film was written by our famous 
theoretician of literature, Victor Shklovsky, who has 
written many scenarios and continuities (Bulat Batii , 

The Family Scotinini, The Daughter of the Captain, 
and other historical-literary movie-subjects). 

The story of the House of the Dead is also taken 
from literature. ** There was a novel by Dostoievsky, 
The Chronicle of the House of the Dead ("house of 
the dead" — the jail. Shklovsky has changed the situa- 
tion. He has made Dostoievsky himself the hero of 
the film — because the novel itself was written by Dos- 
toievsky when he was in Siberia as a political prisoner. 
As in The Road to Life, there are fine songs in The 
House of the Dead, songs of the Siberian prisoners. 

We are also awaiting a big film by Dovzhenko, the 
famous creator of the silent, but great, Earth (called 
in America, Soil). This new film deals with the prob 
lems of a human being under the conditions of the 
period of socialist reconstruction of society. The pic- 
ture is entitled Ivan (Russian name for John), a title 
which is not less important or significant than the title 
Earth. "Ivan" is one of the workers on Dnieperstory, 
the huge dam and power plant that is being built on 
the Dneiper River of the Ukraine. 

Next time, after seeing the House of the Dead, 
wholly, and not in parts only (as now), I shall write 
you more about it. 

*Since this letter arrived, as we go to press, we learn 
that the House of the Dead has been finished and 
shown in Moscow — Ed. Note. 

**Federov is the director of the stage-spectacle 
Roar, China!, by S. Tretjanov, produced at Meyer- 
hold's Theatre. This spectacle was highly praised in 
Germany. — N. Solew. 

Roar, China! was put on by the Theatre Guild in 
New York City two seasons ago. Over and against 
the vehement protestations of Rouben Mamoulian, the 
director, the Theatre Guild insisted on emasculating 
the political ideology of Tretjanov's original manuscript. 
Bourgeois dictatorship. — Ed. Note. 


Continued from page 24 

afar a naval battle, an erruption of a vulcano, or the 
surface of the moon, — as well as the "class struggle," 
the inside of a drop of blood, etc. 

Such is the field for "macro-," "micro-" and "tele-"- 
shooting. (Microscopic and telescopic.) 

I want to add that it is also possible to apply to cine- 
matographic uses the X-Ray tube, and so to pierce 
through, with the camera, the walls of a house, or see 
the inside processes of an organism. Furthermore, a 
plate, sensitive to the infra-red rays, could even "see" 
through the mist and night. 

To conclude: One of the many fundamental differ- 
ences between the typical "Hollywood" and the Russian 
film-workers is this: While in Hollywood they work 

relying on instinct, "horse sense," empirically acquired 
knowledge of tricks, camera angles and situations regu- 
lated by the indications of the box-office, in Russia, on 
the other hand, the Soviet film-worker strives to build a 
rational theory of his art, analyzing it in its infinitesimal 
formal elements, analyzing at the same time the struc- 
ture of society. For, to reflect it on the screen — and to 
transform it into reality — is the function of cinema art. 

ERRATA: In the above article, A Few Remarks on the Elements 
of Cine-Language, we wish to call the reader's atten- 
tion to the following correction: The first sentence 
on the fifth line, second column, page 24, should read 
as follows: "The choice of words (as Hamlet says, 
we read only 'words, words, words' . . . ) their dis- 
position in a sentence — their rhythmical flow" etc., 
etc., etc. . . . 






Montage Notes for a Documentary Film 

"Rjechevsky has the virtue, his aims being limit- "PAY AS YOU EARN!" 

ed, to pose problems bravely before the director; -The peering newspapers 
he determines the emotional content and the sense preaching their corruption 

of the film without determining the visual con- -In trumpet-grandeur 
tours." — Pudovkin. and lusty conclusion. 

-Limp cities alike in their escapes "ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT!' 

and conquests -A Greta Garbo sign 

-Concordant traffic -Vibrant 

-Dumb hordes long out of work -Throbbing to adolescents 

—Prowling -and nomads 

-Their vigilance confined to passing women stamped down like grapes in sweat 

and their bodies -Its electric hallucination, 
who turn away "FLESH AND THE DEVIL" 

-A sudden thrust for space! -Department Stores 

from daring offers of recognition -Woolworth the A and P's 

and a vise-like need of them -counters busy with wives 

-And their bodies -Bargaining 

-KODAK AS YOU GO! and impatient with unwanted children 

-SOUTH PENN SQUARE! who are as reconciled as their parents. 

-Weeping willows for men "Papa Loves Mamma 

or what's left of them Mamma Loves Papa 

to dump their past there Every Thing is Rosy Now!" 

—To wallow in, to reflect -Skyscrapers 
and suffer again babbling to God 

their wrinkled history; in their heterogeneous stammer 

-For the police to trample in unconcern -And confusing man 
of pilgrims' weariness to begone and beast 

And bedamned! in their braggadocio. 

-DO NOT THROW RUBBISH AROUND! "Roar of Cities has musical under/oner 

-A sudden radio pronouncement -The Carnegie Library 

-While you're jostled in the street -Severe and uninhabited 

from the quick perception of -Fiction for the Sabbath 

—Apples -And librarians of ephemeral sex 
-Unemployed who covet the beggars' cup "SILENCE PLEASE!" 

-Citizens! -The Deposits in the men's room 

—Torsos and ankles and axiom of its walls; 

-The undulation of a calve "SOME COME HERE TO " 

or breast _ I3 th precinct 

calling for a hand -Cages and complex excrement 

to plumb and survey _The writing on the wall 

-Its greek fecundity! -Scratches by men awaiting daylight 

-Faces -Excavating lice 

-Prolix and stained _A n d shuddering 

-In format vigilant -From vermin and the cold 

-Pouched in decay -Scratching, scratching 
-Caloried f or others to follow 

-Sticky with time _Or for the law to erase: 

-Rapt and furrowed "Tully Filmus 
-METROPOLITAN! who left this jail for Joltcti" 

-FOUR OUT OF FIVE HAVE ITI "They put me here 
—Shop windows for ridin the rods, 

—unrestrained and lying / wanted to see things — 

-their faces bewildering Charley "KID" Weisberg" 

-And court-plastered; -Apartment houses 

-The clangor of "SALE" notices -Hotel-pimps and gamblers 

-The zigzag of "REDUCTIONS" . . . -Prostitutes 



-Kept women smoking the day away 

with rummy 

gin and recount 

of yesteryear's harlotry! 
-Women gleam 

and wrest away laughter 

and bewilderment 
—Witness greed and wanton breath 
-Muster wails 
-Set griffins into flight; 
-Taut lovers reprieve themselves 

-And sound new pacts 

-Somehow a cuspidor. 
-Typists and secretaries 

describing their new "thrill" 

and new "ensemble" 
-emerging with desire 
"True Stories" 

read in intervals 
-Of office slack, lavatory duty 
-Subway run. 

-Real estate men, lawyers and clerk 

who collect at quick-lunches 
-All the day's routine 
-Automobile-love episodes 

d gaming debts; 
-Then back to an afternoon of dreaming: 

" When I get you alone tonight " 

-Of desperate outwitting 
-Of both. 

" Where will you be at forty?" 
-Arguing students 
-Destroying the past 
-Denouncing the present 
-Despising the "mercenary" 
-All for black coffee 

and a future. 
"Own your own home!" 
-With a bedroom of lust 
-A kitchen of hate and destruction 
-Plush living rooms 
"A dollar down!" 
-Decrepit with cheap wit 

and the moment's wise-cracks; 
—Abated with compromise 

until its customers 

-Screaming made 

from silence enforced 
-Or suicide 

from despatched venom. 

The city swallows the sun 

Men hack God into bread. 
-Farmer's help 
-And family and possessions 
-And second hand car 

-Resist the road 

-Trek silendy from state 

-To state 

-Envying cattle their cud 

-And contentment 

-Only resting 

-For shepherd-food 

-And smuggled childbirth 

-Or to rant at the Combines 
-And the "Power" 

which conditioned them. 
"Farm For Sale." 
-In town 

-Farmers auction and barter 
-And families exchange toothpicks 

and hunger 
"When it's springtime in the Rockjes" 
-Rivets of concern 

with the withering of crops 
-And unemployment 
-Animal lore 

-The political exploitation 
-And the same feudalism 

next Saturday. 
-Oil wells 
"Where oil has been 

little ever grows again" 
-Ranches and barren mines 
"A fertile region the prairies 

and an obstacle 

to white advance 

with no economy 

and only fit for Indians" 

-For religion, mountains 
-And the holy word 
-Chalked by a strident bedouin 
-In a mouldy ford; 
"Cod is Love" 
"Jesus Saves" 
"You are now leaving the incorporated village 

of Eden" 

-The city, the country 
-All the hitch-hikers' kit 
-The discarded refuse 

for maintenance 
-And excursion 
-The billboards 
—The bourgeois scenery 
-The Highway 
—And imperious 
—Impassive to the worker 
-And imperial! 
"Negro burned by mob" 
"Hunger-marches throughout U. S." 

The city swallows the sun 

Men hack God into bread. 






Film production by workers' groups in a capitalist 
country is naturally beset with extreme difficulties. 
With the slender financial resources available to these 
groups a wide range of technical equipment is practi- 
cally out of the question. 

Does this mean that we should content ourselves 
with theorising over someone else's films until the 
revolution places the studios, the equipment and the 
money in our hands? 

Obviously such a policy would make the work- 
ers' film groups a mere collection of critics, stifling the 
creative impulses that are to be found everywhere in 
our movement. 

Whatever the difficulties, we must combine the socio- 
logical and technical study of the Soviet films with 
production work of our own, however crude and frag- 
mentary it may be in the first stages. 

We must learn to master, in a practical way, the 
elements of film production so that when we have the 
resources after the revolution we shall know how to 
make use of them. 

Although the Workers' Film Movement in Britain 
is quite young, it has tackled this production problem 
and has already certain achievements to its credit. 

What form of production is possible? I suggest that 
we can at least make a start with (i) workers' news 
reels; (2) montage films; (3) documentaries. 

Here in Britain we have achieved something — a very 
little something — in these three forms. We have made 
three news reels, each about one thousand feet in 
length. The subjects covered by these reels include the 
May Day demonstrations, the International Day of 
Struggle against Unemployment, the strike of the Lan- 
cashire textile operatives, and the Unemployed Hunger 

A single reel montage-film has been made under 
the title of Glimpses of Modern Russia. This entirely 
consists of cut-outs from Soviet films imported into 
Britain. The material was collected and fashioned into 
a rhythmical pattern. The result is a fairly compre- 

hensive picture of various phases of life and activity 
in the Soviet Union today. The cost was negligible. 

As a result of a Conference of delegates from the 
various Workers' Film Societies, a decision was made 
to produce a somewhat more ambitious effort. It was 
decided to popularise filmically the Workers' Charter, 
the militant programs of the revolutionary workers. 
An outline scenario was prepared and I was given 
responsibilty for its production. 

The film — 1931 is its title — has now been com- 
pleted and was received enthusiastically at its first 
London presentation, igji shows how the dockers, 
the railwaymen, the miners, the textile and steel work- 
ers are exploited under the rationalisation attacks of 
the employers. The imperialist character of British 
capitalism is emphasised with shots of slave labour 
in China and the suppression of native revolts by 
troops and warships. 

Shots of unemployed workers at the Labour Ex- 
changes, and the slums where the workers live are 
contrasted with the luxury pursuits and wealth of the 

The struggles of the colonial workers are cross-cut 
with those of the British workers and there is a sym- 
bolical sequence urging solidarity with the Soviet 
Union. Various shots of British workers in action, 
strikes, marches and demonstrations build up in a 
rising tempo to the fade-out title, a map of Britain, 
with the words "THEIR OWN" superimposed. 

Difficulties of securing interior scenes of factory and 
workshop conditions necessitated the borrowing of 
certain sequences from other films, but a very con- 
siderable proportion of the film we shot ourselves with 
a portable hand camera. The film is entirely document- 
ary; we employed no actors and no studio settings. It 
runs about 1,600 feet and costs under 50 pounds. 

As an experiment, 1931 is valuable, not only for 
its propaganda content, but because it has taught us 
that workers' production is possible even with the most 
limited resources. 



The season of the London Workers' Film Society 
came to an end with a performance at which 
The Blue Express was shown. The society, which is 
the London branch of the Federation of Workers' 
Film Societies, began a new season in the fall. 

The last programme was particularly notable. The 
first film was a Chaplin comedy and made interesting 
comparison with a film prepared by the London Work- 
er's Film Society, called Nineteen Thirty-One, which 


was the most ambitious effort of the Federation, as 
it represents an attempt in filmic form to popularize 
the Workers' Charter. It is documentary and a con- 
siderable portion was taken out of doors with only a 
hand camera. "The film endeavors, necessarily brief- 
ly, to emphasize the unemployment, poverty and ex- 
ploitation of the workers in capitalist England and to 
show how the Charter is a weapon which the workers 
have forged in their economic and political struggles." 

The brilliant cutting by Ralph Bond, who directed, 
has resulted in a documentary that is not only remark- 
able in its power of expression, but valuable as a histor- 
ical document, and the pride of the members of the 

The final item was the Blue Express, and after she 
had been driven victoriously over the frontier, one left 
the kino in a state of mind in which admiration for 
the technique and consideration of the idea were fight- 
ing for footage. 

The Blue Express (sometimes known as China 
Express) is one of the finest examples of Russian 
technique that the writer has had the opportunity 
of seeing, and it is hoped that by the time this article 
is printed, Americans will have had the opportunity 
of seeing it. It is wonderful. The quick cutting to 
significant detail is used with more skill than ever 
before and the musical accompaniment by Edmund 
Meisel with mixed sound-effects produces an almost 
perfect harmony of sound and sight. It is the first Rus- 
sian syncronized film and gives great insight into the 
almost unconsidered problems of visio-aural coordina- 
tion. The programme aptly describes the film when 

it says . . . "The social importance of the Blue Express 
is equalled by its superb artistic qualities. The tech- 
nical resources of the director, his inspired symbolism, 
his profound sense of satire, his rhythmical cutting, his 
dialectical treatment of the social class-conflicts in 
China today, have contributed to making the Blue 
Express the most important work from Russian stu- 
dios during 1930." And one may add that Ilya Trau- 
berg, the director, takes his place with Eisenstein, 
Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, and Room. 

There was an interesting repertory season at Strat- 
ford, an east London district, where the local censor 
has taken a sane attitude towards The General Line, 
Tur\sib, Earth, The Ghost that Never Returns, Storm 
Over Asia, Men of the Woods, Giant Harvest, and a 
series of interesting shorts, both new and old. 
Earth is the most recent Russian film to be shown here, 
but it is not possible to form any fair opinion, as the 
censor had been peculiarly ham-fisted with his ignor- 
ant shears. But the original treatment of an entirely 
new subject, or rather an old subject from a new ap- 
proach, makes Dovzhenko as important in the Rus- 
sian cinema as Ilya Trauberg. 



In the Soviet Motion Picture Industry 

The development of sound in the Soviet cinema took 
place in the latter months of 1930 and during 1931. 
Although Soviet cinematography was able to profit 
by the machine achievements of the United States (al- 
ready a veteran in the sound film field), and by the 
achievements of the younger German sound film in- 
dustry, nevertheless, it had to go through its own per- 
iod of infancy and suffer all the ills of that period. 

The first steps of the Soviet sound cinematography 
were timid. But the earlier experiments in sound in 
the United States and Germany helped the Soviet cine- 
ma in shortening this period of infancy, and greatly 
accelerated its progress. 

In 193 1 the sound film industry began to train peo- 
ple for the new medium; began to test and select the 
best Soviet recording systems, and to discover writers 
whose manuscripts were suitable for sound films. 

There are three systems of recording in use in the 
Soviet Union now: the Shorin, the Tager, and the 
system devised by the engineers Othotnikov and Mar- 
shakovitch. Professor Chernyshev did valuable work 
with neon lamps, which should also be mentioned. 

The fact that some of the best composers of our 
times — Deshevov, Shostakovitch, and Glier among 
them — have written for the new sound films, is espe- 
cially noteworthy. The first two mentioned are inter- 
nationally known. 

Analysis of the production of 1931 shows that Soviet 
cinematography is fast acquiring experience and mech- 
anical technique equal to that of the advanced nations. 
The appearance on the sound screens of Western 
Europe of such films as Road To Life with Shostako- 

vitch, proves correct the Soviet policy of assimilating 
foreign experience and developing a Soviet industry 
of producing sound recording and sound reproducing 
equipment. The recording in these pictures is little, 
if at all, inferior in quality to European productions. 

Among the important sound pictures to be released 
in 193 1, is the film Fear, directed by Room. Its scen- 
ario was written by the talented young playwright, 
A. N. Afenogenov. 

In 1 93 1 the number of Soviet sound films, includ- 
ing the synchronized ones, was modest enough; thirty- 
two were made, of which twelve were features, the 
other twenty being educational. In 1932, Soyuzkino's 
schedule calls for a great increase. One hundred sound 
films will be produced; twenty-five of them features 
and the remaining of an educational nature. In 1931 
there were only 50 sound screens; in 1932 the number 
of sound screens will reach three thousand. 

In spite of the fact that the old motion picture stu- 
dios of the Soviet Union are not well adapted to the 
production of sound films, this year will, no doubt, 
be utilized in filling the gap in sound film technique 
— the gap that resulted from the late entrance of Soviet 
cinematography into the sound field. 1932 will see the 
Soviet cinema brought back to its high standard of 
artistic quality, which was somewhat lowered during 
the last years, due to the reconstruction of the industry. 
This is assured by the enthusiastic response of the Union 
of Proletarian Writers and Composers to Soyuzkino's 
appeal to participate in the creation of a new and power- 
ful branch of art that will be accessible to millions of 






Translated by H. J. Salemson 

Reasons for Suppressing a Film 

G. W. Pabst, creator of one of the truest of war- 
films, Four from the Infantry, (Comrades of igi8), 
made a picture after that old English play of the 18th 
century: Beggars' Opera. And all the critics agreed in 
lauding its strength, its sincerity, and its tone, which 
was almost unheard of in the bourgeois cinema, a 
tone of revolt against poverty, of hope for a life with- 
out shackles. 

This film is at present being shown in its entirety 
in Germany and in England, and with no small suc- 
cess. But it will not be seen in France. For the first 
time, the true reasons for suppressing this picture here 
have just been revealed and, as usual in such cases, 
the repulsive stench of police and business "plots" ac- 
companies their announcement. The letter, written by 
the director of the prefectorial board of censorship to 
the company which was to release the picture in France, 
is definite and significant. The following deletions were 
demanded in this letter: 

The delegate of the Prefecture of Police considered 
"indecent" the showing of a prostitute accosting a man 
on the street. No doubt, he wishes to see this only on 
the sidewalks of Paris. 

Furthermore, he forbade the showing of a scene in 
which bribery is clearly established when the jailer 
tells Mackie Knife, leader of the bandits, that he has 
manacles at every price and, finally, releases his wrists 
in exchange for 50 pounds. This episode is considered 
topical because, recently, in a provincial prison, an 
inmate was freed through the corruption of several 

The delegate of the Ministry of the Interior consi- 
dered the speech made by the beggars' chief, subversive 
and unwarranted. Under no conditions can talking 
pictures mention the hard hearts and sensitive nerves 
of the rich who are responsible for the misery of the 
poor (sic). 

The Foreign Affairs delegate formally opposed show- 
ing a close-up of the Queen of England, livid with 
fear and hiding her face behind a bouquet of flowers 
as she beholds the beggars. The scenes of the beggars 
being brutally disbanded by the police did not have to 
be deleted. Naturally, in a bourgeois film, mass demon- 
strations can be shown only if participants are massacred 
and beaten by the "defenders of law and order." That 
is the safest policy. 

The line would also have to be cut in which Mackie 
Knife states that an ex-police official will always make 
a good bank director, because there have been so many 
prefecture employees and even retired Prefects of 
Police who have become bank administrators. 

In agreement with the firm's executives, Pabst re- 
fused to make these cuts which would have taken all 
meaning away from his film, and he invited the entire 
French Parliament to a private showing of Beggars' 


Opera. A goodly portion came. No one found any objec- 
tions, but the ban was not raised. 

A few days later, the distributing firm, Warner's 
French branch, was notified that the board of censors 
would give its visa to none of its films. M. Ginistry, 
dramatist and president of the board of censors, de- 
clared: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested 
that we systematically deny this firm our visa, by way 
of retaliation against one of its films, at present being 
shown on the screens of America, Fifty Million French- 
men, a film definitely aimed against the good name of 

This chastisement was revoked after a short time, 
but Beggars' Opera still was not permitted. 

This is the situation in France. Therein lies a con- 
fession of failure. When, after sixty years of "demo- 
cracy," the leaders of a country are reduced to emas- 
culating a film, for fear that the masses might find in 
it some encouragement toward a supreme revolt, one 
can conclude that they are condemning their own crea- 
tion and admitting that they are unable to retain gov- 
ernmental power in any manner other than police 

Soviet Films in France 

The treatment given Pabst's picture can give only 
a weak idea of the systematic manner in which Soviet 
films are boycotted in France. Still, through the rela- 
tions of the French director, Abel Gance, at the Quai 
d'Orsay, it is possible that some of them may be author- 
ized for public showing. In this way, Along the Quiet 
Don, made by Olga Preobrajenskaya, director of The 
Women of Riazan, has been shown at Studio 28, a small 
avant-garde house. But this is obviously not what might 
have been hoped for. Needless to say, the admirable 
Russian films are not meant for a few snobs and esthetes, 
but for wide, general audiences which might profitably 
come to know their lessons of beauty and culture. In 
that, too, France is considerably behind the other 

Elsewhere, despite an imperialism and a hatred of 
the Soviets in no wise inferior to those of the French 
bourgeoisie, such masterpieces as Potem\in, Soil, 
October, and others, the true classics of the screen, 
have been recognized and authorized for general re- 
lease. In France, they are not even submitted to a board 
of censors whose answer is so certain beforehand. 
How can we forget that, after the "subversive" passages 
of Pudovkin's great film, Mother, were deleted, the 
film was only one-half of its original length? 

According to late announcements, Old and New, 
heretofore suppressed, will be run at Studio 28, too. 
But here is another beautiful example of the hypocrisy 
of the stalwart guardians of our virtue: the film will 
not be shown under its real title, which has become 
too well-known. Instead, it will be authorized only if 
titled The Struggle for the Land. 

b> * 





The Basic Fallacies of American Film Technique 

In its long plundering career, Hollywood has de- 
bauched many beings and many things. 

Among the things corrupted by Hollywood must 
be mentioned, first and foremost — the cinema. Under 
this term we may include such closely integrated fac- 
tors as: film-technique, film-ideology, the whole con- 
ception and philosophy of the purposes, forms and 
structural problems of cinematography. 

This new art was in a fair way to being analyzed 
and correcdy exploited by Griffith many years ago, 
but the development of the big production-companies 
along opposite lines, their growth into a mammoth, 
octopus-like racket, and other coincident developments 
in the life of post-war capitalist America — the "rack- 
eteer-izing" of the whole nation under the dictator- 
ship of the biggest racket of them all, Big Business, — 
all this crushed, side-tracked, and otherwise defeated 
the first film-experimentalist, that is to say, the first 
creator that America had. 

Added to these forces was the fact that Griffith him- 
self, having no solid, well-planned ideology, either in 
the social or in the cinematic sense, was totally unable to 
resist their onslaught, and in more ways than one he 
relinquished the opportunity to preserve the important 
things he had started: he betrayed the American cinema. 

Griffith came first; Hollywood — the "industry" — 
came afterward. We should be understood in a stricdy 
materialistic sense when we say that Griffiith was 
spiritually and intellectually , as well as economically, 
unequipped to combat the invasion of the barbarians 
and half-baked technicians who flooded Hollywood 
after him. 

Nevertheless, without minimizing Griffiith's tragic 
failings, it is doubtful whether in America, after the 
year 1921, any one man, and possibly any group of 
men, could have realized in practice what we under- 
stand today as "the modern cinema." We must qualify 
this, of course, by saying that this would have been 
impossible within the industry itself. What could have 
been done outside the industry, with very humble fin- 
ancial means, but with a maximum application of ef- 
fort and creativity, — this is a different story, and it 
merely reminds us again of how many of the bour- 
geois "film creators" of America, with their wealth 
and prestige, have been the basest traitors to the 
cinema. Their pride, consisting of their commercial 
aspirations, their high-flown social life, their impulse 
toward an existence of moral degeneracy and mental 
ease, plus other factors which we may discuss on an- 
other occasion, conflicted again and again with their 
sporadic attempts, sometimes strong, sometimes feeble, 
to aid the cinema. 

Moreover, the wearisome, unequal struggle of such 

men as F. W. Murnau, Robert Flaherty and Von Stro- 
heim, against the stupidity, tyranny, ignorance and 
ratdesnake politics which characterize the Hollywood 
racket, definitely checked whatever constructive in- 
fluence might have been forthcoming from the best 
of the intellectuals. In my opinion the defeat of the 
Swedish director, Victor Seastrom, was the most sig- 
nificant setback in this connection, unless we include 
the recent rejection of Eisenstein. 

There have been opportunities of giving to the broad 
masses of the country the rudimentary practises and 
principles of a modern advanced cinema. If these oppor- 
tunities had been taken advantage of independently 
(under private financing) since the days of Griffith's 
major creative work, the task for the proletarian cinema 
in America would be much easier today. There would 
not now be the gap between the extreme non-filmic con- 
struction of the Hollywood product on the one hand, 
and the realization of a dialectical montage-structure 
on the other. 

But the crushing of first-rate men like Flaherty and 
Seastrom, who fought the barbarians in a fight lost 
from the start, was not in itself a basic cause. It was 
merely a dialectically inevitable result of an entire 
process of corrupdon and decay. The "fruits" of this 
process are manifest in the present wholesale disin- 

Today the Hollywood bourgeois film speaks and 
screams aloud, but there is a death-ratde in the sound. 
A spurious form of film-technique, which has not been 
created suddenly but has evolved over a period of years, 
is used to keep the industry alive. Its mass of em- 
ployees are destitute as never before, while even the 
few on top, who grabbed everything during the de- 
parted prosperity-epoch, are trembling on their thrones. 

A rotting corpse, it relies on artificial respiration to 
keep going. 

The decay of so vast an affair as the American screen 
can, of course, be traced to a considerable variety of 
fundamental causes. Most of these will be found in 
the history of capitalist economy in the United States 
and intimately associated with the social and political 
development of the American bourgeoisie as a class. 

It should be noted that my interpretation of the cine- 
ma is based on my adherence to the principles of dia- 
lectic materialism. I have consistendy attacked any 
point of view that seeks to explain the cinema as an 
isolated artistic phenomenon unrelated to such things 
as class-control of society, national economy, etc., in con- 
ditioning the minds of masses. And so, as regards the 
pitiably ineffective minority of talented technicians in 
Hollywood (directors, cameramen and writers), — I am 
not in the least overlooking the materialistic basis of 


• M 

Hollywood's degeneration. Fundamentally, in the deep- 
est dialectical sense, the basic causes of the stupidity, 
ignorance and tyranny of the American film-industry 
are indissolubly connected with the Marxian causal 

The whole mountain of celluloidal rubbish heaped 
up under the electric sign, "HOLLYWOOD," is a 
dialectical product, a crazy but inevitable monument, 
of the decayed culture of the American bourgeois class. 
No wonder, then, that in the final stage of capitalist 
society, when world capitalism has already begun its 
mad plunge downward, Hollywood's movies are eager- 
ly sought by "tired business-men" to release them a 
moment from their sorrow! 

The existence of an institution through a period of 
time need not signify progress; it may indicate retro- 
gression. On one hand, the Soviet cinema in seven 
years has advanced to a condition of artistic conquest 
that no one had ever dreamed of, not even the vener- 
able old Elie Faure in his Art of Cineplastics, nor such 
superficial, muddle-headed art-critics as Gilbert Seldes, 
whom we now perceive to have been captivated by the 
decadent avant garde cinema of France. On the other 
hand, there is the "film" developed by Hollywood. 
Degenerative impulses from the beginning; misunder- 
standing of the basic principles of film-form; relent- 
less abuse and persecution of the small minority of 
useful and creative men involved (Seastrom, Flaherty, 
Stroheim, Dupont, Murnau); extension of false tech- 
nique; growth and deliberate encouragement of tech- 
nical creative methods (cutting, photography, direc- 
tion and scenario-writing) that are essentially non- 
filmic and that have been obviously inspired by purely 
commercial exigencies during the industry's periodic 

The Hollywood technique of today is a mirage 
gready admired by certain bourgeois film-producers 
and even by some of the "advanced" theorists of 
Europe, particularly of France. The French group, 
for example, freely admit the accidental, crazy tech- 
nique of the American film, but they find in the pro- 
duct itself a certain mechanized good-natured elan that 
is missing in their own lives. It is therefore possible 
for them either to ignore the technique or to find in 
"accident" a source of virtue — never mind at the 
expense of how many thousands of Hollywood's wage- 
slaves who periodically pay the highest price for these 
directorial "accidents"! — and so they have propagated 
throughout Europe a hybrid-American conception of 
the cinema that is really quite attractive to many bour- 
geois esthetes. Happily, the mirage is even at this very 
moment beginning to grow dim on the horizon, and 
between the growing proletarian thunder at home and 
the death-ratde noise of the American talkie across the 
sea, the bourgeois esthetes of Western Europe who for 
some years have sung hymnals of praise to the corrupt- 
ive capitalist film from Hollywood, arc finding that 
their chorus is already a trifle out of date. 

In this paper I wish to trace and analyze the degen- 
eration of American film-technique. In some ways it 
is wrong to speak of "degeneration," but if we take 
Griffith and certain isolated achievements after Grif- 
fith (for example: Greed, Moana, The Wind) as the 


high marks of attainment on this side of the Adantic, 
we shall be able to judge everything else accordingly. 
Of ocurse, the moment we say "Griffith," we evoke 
instantaneously the more fundamental montage-system 
of the Soviet directors, who developed Griffith's ele- 
mentary discoveries to their logical conclusion. But in 
this instance, for purposes of historical review and in 
order to obtain a proper perspective on the present 
film situation in America, we shall use only the more 
general and elementary principles of Soviet film-ideo- 
logy as a means of comparison and definition. 


Today false methods of film technique obtain to a far 
greater degree in Hollywood, and are more desperately 
adhered to by the directors and "master" technicians of 
the American film-industry, than at any previous period. 
The essential reason for this is: overcapitalization of the 
industry and the tyrannical use of power by the control- 
ling interests have driven experimentation out of the 
studios or underground, and even the best directors, irre- 
spective of what ingenuity they may possess, must con- 
form to outworn and illogical conventions. 

The photography of the Hollywood product is in 
itself a summary expression of a false, romantic, bour- 
geois oudook on life and the American scene. But it 
is in cutting, in the editing-process, that we find the 
greatest source of Hollywood's corruption of film- 
technique. In this sphere, experimentation of even the 
most elementary nature — by experimentation we mean 
creative activity, the seeking of new expressive forms, 
the action of the artisdc intellect — is denied to the 
makers of films. In its place stand certain myths, certain 
falsehoods, of film-construction. 

Even if it were not for the low, moronic substance 
of Hollywood pictures, the predominance of these 
falsehoods, the conviction of the majority of the direc- 
tors that these false methods are the correct methods 
of filmic contraction, would alone absolutely forbid 
any intention of assigning a place to the Hollywood 
product among genuine film accomplishments. 

Here; for example, is an incomplete "catechism" 
of the lies and illusions in which the Hollywood pro- 
ducers place their faith: 

1. If a director has been "trained" in the cutting-depart- 
ment, he is ipso-facto a "wise" director and a "master" 
of montage. (This half-truth emanates from the well- 
known case of Milestone. I shall discuss the connection 
of Milestone with American cutting-methods later.) 

2. When no other means of transition between the shots 
suggests itself, use a "lap dissolve." 

3. The "lap dissolve" is useful at all times as a means of 
smooth visual flow. (In this error alone may be found 
the key to the technical degeneration of the American 

4. The function of film-photography is to please the 
eye. This function is valid regardless of the dramatic 
and montage requirements of the subject for harsh or 
otherwise "unpleasant" (subjectively speaking) photog- 
raphy. (From this we can see that the cameramen, whose 
art-tradition stems from sentimental and romantic still- 
photography, have more than a big share in the corrup- 
tion of cinematography. Their bastard influence has spread 
throughout the world, infecting even the best of the 
European cinema.) 

5. In the sound-film, the basis of each scene is the talk 
itself — the dialogue. 

6. When it is desirable to "quicken" the audience's at- 
tention, use "fast cuts." (This doctrine is one of the most 
pernicious features of American film-technique at the pre- 
sent moment. It automatically destroys the whole concep- 
tion of filmic unity and collective montage. (See Street 
Scene, American Tragedy, Front Page, etc.) 

7. Use "interesting," "clever" and "startling" angles 
whenever possible to stimulate the audience and to call 
attention to the virtuosity of the cameraman. 

8. The detail-doseup, the objectification-closeup and 
other closeups used for purposes of intensifying the mon- 
tage-structure, except only when the faces of players are 
shown in closcup, have the function of, and are designated 
as, "inserts." They are not considered an intrinsic, vital 
unit of the montage-structure. 

9. The background, especially if it is an outdoor scenic 
of the picture post-card variety, must always be photo- 
graphed "pleasingly," "smoothly," (even if its purposes 
be "weirdness," "starkness," "coldness," etc.). The pur- 
pose should be to bring out the photographic composition. 
Never mind the cineplastic image-values! Never mind 
the overtonal qualiites, related to the montage-form as a 
collective whole I It is much more important that the 
photographer should show off that he knows "composi- 
tion;" he will be sure to get a job on the next production, 
in that case. 

10. Excess footage: this is the term used by the American 
producers to denote all the vital material that makes it 
possible to build up the structure of the continuity to 
points of high tension. By "excess footage" they mean 
any shot, or series of shots, whose connection with the 
material as a whole is not superficially obvious or literal, 
and whose function in the picture is purely filmic or sub- 
jective, instead of in the direct course of the action-narra- 
tive. Thus, they destroy the montage of their films by 
eliminating, or by not shooting at all, images that 6eem 
to be incidental to the upbuilding of atmosphere, mood, 
tone, etc., but that are actually of the greatest psychologi- 
cal importance. All this vital, significant image-stuff they 
call "excess footage." Examples later. 

11. Closely connected with the above idiocy of American 
film-production is the ignorance concerning the use of 
"still" shots (pauses) or shots of arrested motion: e.g., 
objects, still-compositions, motionless images used for 
purely symbolical or cine-structural purposes. They do not 
know the value of the still shot, but consider it to be 
either "excess footage" or a "drag" on the tempo of the 
film. They imagine that any shot in which there is no 
motion is automatically "dead material." With this false 
idea firmly implanted in their "minds," the American 
producers prove conclusively that they know nothing what- 
ever about the construction of tempo and rhythm in films. 

As already stated, the foregoing fallacies and 
corrupt notions of film-technique (that is, what Holly- 
wood calls "film-technique"), give only a partial, and 
by no means satisfactory, idea of the mass of stupidi- 
ties in the name of which the American producers 
"construct" (read: destroy, murder) their films. But 
the above list, at any rate, indicates the calibre of the 
Hollywood film-mentality, and he who masters these 
obvious half-truths and contradictions is considered 
to have a "background" in "pictures" and is said in 
Hollywood to possess a "picture-mind." 

To understand more fully the inimical character of 
these fraudulent concepts on which every film-produc- 
tion in Hollywood is based, and to realize how their 
traditionalizing has cheated the masses of movie-goers 
out of a rich esthetic experience, and incidentally ef- 
fected a wholesale corruption of cinema in the West- 
ern world, it is necessary, first, to examine briefly the 
essential points of the most important theory of film- 
construction in the history of the art and, second, to 
analyze the salient construction-methods of Holly- 
wood in the light of this theory. 


Nearly everyone today, even among the lay public, 
knows that after a film has been shot, it is assembled 
in the cutting-room where the individual shots or 
"takes" — closeups, long shots, medium shots, etc. — 
are pasted together in the order of their continuity 
or sequence thus forming one continuous strip of cellu- 
loid. This "continuity" (in reality, a succession of still- 
photographs), is formed, or built up, on the basis of 
the logical order of the time and space of its separate 

This time and space, however, is filmic time and 
space, not real, or actual, time and space. The film, 
as we say, has its own reality. And the film has this 
autonomous filmic reality to the extent it departs from 
the norm of actual reality. As an example, consider the 
power of the film to concentrate its spatially separated 
scenes and also to eliminate transitional or intermed- 
iary steps in the projection of filmic-time. 

In Griffith's Intolerance, to take an exceedingly im- 
pressive instance, four stories, each supposedly occur- 
ring in a different section of the world (Babylon ,old 
Jerusalem, the France of the Huguenots and a mod- 
ern American city), are flashed on the screen in a con- 
tinuity of parallel and simultaneous action. 1 

Another instance of the projection of filmic-time: 
the film may show a man entering a house, and in the 
very next shot, it may show the man leaving the 
house several hours or several years later, establishing 
the passage of time by inference, antecedent or sub- 
sequent, or by any device which has been calculated 
to be the logical one at this point of the film-structure. 
If the director's judgment fails to supply him with 
the logical image, he may resort to the standard exped- 
ient of unimaginative directors: a subtide. 

An important illustration of a method by which 
time can be "mounted," may be seen in the Ukrainian 
film, Two Days, made by a young Russian director, 

A bourgeois family is shown fleeing from a man- 

Through the other end of town, the Red troops are 
advancing en masse. 

After a violent succession of scenes of the fleeing 
family and the conquering army, Stabavoj causes the 
tempo of the film to lessen. 

The action relaxes in its fury; movement diminishes 
in the individual shots; and, finally, a close-up is flash- 
ed showing the ornamented iron gate at the entrance 
to the family's home . 

A hand places a Red flag on top of the gate. 

The hand withdraws. 

But the camera continues to focus on the gate and 
the Red flag. 

1 Technically considered, this citation from Intolerance is equally 
valid as an illustration of the power of time-concentration and 
time-montage, but I have quoted it here with reference to the 
treatment of space. However, it is more celebrated for the mont- 
age of time. Even the broad masses of people who have seen 
this tremendous film, without knowing a thing about film-tech- 
nique, have marvelled at the violent parallelisms of the modern 
locomotive racing across the landscape and the massed chariots 
of Cyrus sweeping over the desert toward Babylon. The equal 
of this has not been achieved in the subsequent fifteen years of 
American cinema. 


We arc led to expect a change of shot, but, instead, 
we continue to gaze at this relatively motionless close- 
up of the Red flag. 

Fully fifteen to twenty seconds (a long time in screen 
action) pass before anything happens. And then, im- 
perceptably at first, the Red flag dissolves slowly — 
almost sadly, it seems! — into the white flag of the 
counter-revolutionary armies! 

In a single carefully developed dissolve, without a 
change of camera-placement and with no organic spat- 
tial motion, a lapse of time and a drastic reversal of 
situation are conveyed to the spectator. 

These incidents have been cited as exampels of con- 
tinuity, of the possibilities and variations of continuity- 
treatment, but, as a matter of fact, they cannot be 
thought of, from a technical and esthetic point of view, 
in terms so simple and superficial. To define the meth- 
ods of continuity utilized to weld the film into an 
artistic, structural whole, the Russians have taken from 
the French a word that in the last two years has creat- 
ed immense excitement and considerable anguish in 
the Western world, especially in Hollywood. I refer, 
of course, to the word "montage." As unfamiliar as 
this term is to many people in America in connection 
with the creative problems of the motion picture, it is 
a relatively simple matter to explain its meaning. 

To mount a film means, broadly speaking, to organ- 
ize it in a logical order of continuity. But it means 
more than this. The montage of a film implies certain 
definite ideas of cutting with respect to the internal 
relationship of its parts. For example: the proportion- 
ing of sequences on the basis of (i) the number of 
shots required to build up each sequence and (2) the 
length of each particular shot in relation to the length 
of every other shot. These two considerations lead 
di reedy to the establishment of tempo, rhythm and 
general lines or tendencies of movement. 

The reward for the correct building-up, or montage, 
of tempo in a scene of great emotional power, or for 
the montage of a strong, irresistible rhythm in a se- 
quence of mass-action and many conflicting currents 
of movement (as, for example, the massacre sequence 
in Potem\in) is the evocation of intense emotional 
response from the audience. 

It would leave too serious a gap to omit one consider- 
ation of the montage-process that is more advanced 
and that is, perhaps, of even deeper significance. 

Specifically: the montage of images which have no 
external, or subjective connection, but whose objective 
(meaning) connection is decisive. In such connections 
of images, regardless of the unifying process by Eisen- 
stein's "conflict basis" of images, or by Kuleshov's 
early "brick-upon-brick" connection process, the ele- 
ments of time and space do not enter into considera- 
tion. The following simple example from the opening 

2 This is one of the least important of the Soviet films, but one 
which nicely suits our purpose of analyzing an elementary exam- 
ple. Wc need not go to Eisenstein or to Dovzhenko at this stage of 
analysis, since the construction of "non-match" images in their 
films is undertaken on an entirely different theoretical basis — 
that of purely overtonal and intellectual-symbolical imagery along 
lines of "conflict" and "synthesis" respectively. Raismann is 
one of the youngsters among Soviet producers, and we could 
even choose examples from Kuleshov, the pioneer of Russian 
directors, whom Eisenstein has termed "theoretically quite anti- 
quated." We do not need to travel to the farthest terminal of 
the left cinema-line in order to provide examples that, by con- 
trast, show how backward Hollywood really is. 


sequence of the Soviet film In Old Siberia (Zuchthaus 
Nach Sibirien) directed by Raismann, is important: 2 
Main Title: 

1. Siberian sky. 

2. Partial dissolve into aurora design on insignia 
of Greek Catholic Church. This design grad- 
ually overspreads the entire s\y and the s%y 
finally dissolves out. 

3. Dissolve into composition-shot of a group of 
church buildings. 

4. Dissolve into huge tower of Greek Catholic 

5. Dissolve into huge Christ figure. 

6. Dissolve from Christ figure into group of 
prison buildings. 

7. Dissolve into a different group of prison 

8. DIRECT CUT to long-shot of a gloomy 
prison and a snow-waste in Siberia. 

9. Perspective shot of a line of prisoners march- 
ing across the frozen waste, silhouetted against 
bleak Siberian sky. 

There are very important conclusions to be drawn 
from the above continuity. For one thing, note that 
the lap dissolve is not used here as a slip-shod connect- 
ive of shots, having no filmically logical reason for its 
existence. But it is employed as a means of suggesting 
to the spectator the objective connection between the 
various elements (prisons, churches, facades, religious 
symbols.) The dissolve of one into another is an im- 
plied association which would be either lost or very 
unclear if direct cuts were used. 

But, at the end of this group of shots (1-7), occurs 
a direct cut after a whole series of dissolves into the 
culmination-shot (the prison on the snow-plain) to 
which all preceding seven shots are related as a collect- 
ive unit. And the prison itself is the main setting of 
the story. 

This use of the dissolve is a radically different thing 
from the nonsensical use or rather, misuse, of dissolves 
in pictures of Hollywood, where we see one room 
"melting" into another, or a man walking from one 
room to the next in a "lap dissolve" for which there 
is no logical filmic reason except that the director and 
the cutter did not know how to build the continuity.' 

Another important observation to be made from Rais- 
mann's continuity is the minimum time-element and 
space-element involved in the transition from one image 
to the next. These elements are present, but only in the 
broadest sense. We know that it is Siberia, that it is 
in the time of the Czar, that there is a significant con- 
nection between Greek Catholic Church and Czarist 

3 The most conspicuous misuse of the lap dissolve occurs in- 
cessantly in the pictures of one of the worst American directors: 
Josef "von" Sternberg. It would make too long a digression to 
relate all that this man does not know about film-construction and 
direction, but his recourse to endless series of dissolves gives us 
a cue to the basis of his perverse idea of the cinema. In one of 
his recent pictures, Dishonored, he used so many dissolves that 
the film became optically tiresome^ entirely apart from the poor 
direction, etc. One shot melted into another, and this process 
was kept up relentlessly, without stop, until the picture was a 
confusion of mixing, dissolving, inter-melting scenes and it was 
sometimes difficult to determine which was which. This, of course, 
was an extreme misuse of a false method which even the betteT- 
informed directors use in all their films. 

prison. The atmosphere of gloom, oppression, tyranny, 
dominance of the church, etc., is very strongly con- 
veyed. And as concerns the symbolical value of the 
images (the church insignia, the Christ figure, etc.) 
after seeing this picture, I made the following note, 
which I have incorporated in my essay, Principles of 
the New World-Cinema: 

"To operate as a symbol in an explicit symbol-rela- 
tionship, an image need not be temporally (film-chro- 
nologically) or spatially (film-geographically) con- 
nected with other images that precede or follow it ... . 
This summation montage, which opens the film, con- 
sists of elements (prisons, churches, facades, religious 
symbols, etc.) which have no geographical connection 
with each other or with the action projected, but which 
are coordinated as essential elements in the explicit 
symbol-relationship formulating the association of 
church and prison (oppression in old Siberia)." 

And I added that, with almost the solitary excep- 
tion of Griffiith (in his earlier days), this is a phase 
of the montage of symbols entirely unknown to Ameri- 
can picture-makers. 

From these few simple examples we can realize: (i) 
the significance of montage as the one unifying factor 
in filmization and (2) the importance of montage- 
ideology as a method of dialectical analysis of film- 
construction. (Cine-analysis.) 

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to mention that the exam- 
ples we have offered hardly begin to give an idea of the 
vast and rich attainments of the Soviet cinema to date 
in the creation of new, significant montage-forms. 
According to Pudovfyn, 

montage is "the logic," "the structural principle 
of film-language" — Film Grammar. 
According to Eisenstein, 

montage is the mathematics of film-construc- 
tion, the dialectical principles governing the dynamics 
of film-form — Film Dialectic. 

And both Eisenstein and Pudovkin have emphas- 
ized, again and again, that montage does not mean, 
and is not of necessity intrinsically identified with, 
quick, shortly-cut flashes of scenes pieced together in 
rapid succession. In their films as well as in theoreti- 
cal evaluations, they have shown it to be the forming 
principle that conditions and governs the final unity of 
the film, investing the whole structure of the picture 
with the logic of image-associations that the multiplicity 
of montage-devices makes possible. 

Obviously, when viewed in this light, the film as- 
sumes the seriousness and complexity of formal meth- 
od associated with any other major form of expression, 
and it becomes, even more than music, something to 
be scientifically studied. 

Systematic study of the cinema is a procedure en- 
tirely unknown to the chaos-minded movie directors 
and cameramen of Hollywood. But in the U.S.S.R., 
a film-university (the Moscow Kino Technikum) has 
been established for the purpose of thorough study 
and research of the motion-picture. 

A point even more imporant in this connection, how- 
ever, is the relation between montage and cutting. 
Several of the most prominent Soviet directors have 
valiantly endeavored, in their technical writings on 
the subject, to make make it clear to the Western 
world that montage does not mean cutting, although 

manifestly it cannot be achieved without resort to the 
physical operation of cutting. 

Up to a few years ago, the American directors used 
to pride themselves on their ability to edit (mount) 
their films in a way that compelled the attention of 
the audience. We may expose this fallacy in passing. 
Generally, the stupidity of American directors, a stu- 
pidity beyond description, was covered up by the clever 
work of an obscure cutter who had a better sense of 
the filmic structure than the director and who was, 
therefore, permitted to earn $25.00 a week for his 
knowledge as against hundreds of dollars or more per 
week that the director got for his ignorance. 

Moreover, the excessively limited knowledge of the 
cutters themselves — remarkable beside that of the di- 
rectors, but pathetic beside that of the Soviet techni- 
cians — never really entitled the American movie-crowd 
to toot their horns so loudly about their editing abili- 
ties. They understood editing, i.e., a certain ingenious 
assembling of the shots to make the picture "flow 
smoothly." And they knew it better than the Germans 
or the Swedes, and better than the French commercial 
directors. Montage, however, the revolutionary creative 
extension of the editing-process, they have never known 
as a group and known but superficially in single cases. 

It was characteristically brazen of the shyster-direc- 
tors of Hollywood to pretend that they had attained 
the "highest mastery" of the cinema of any group on 
earth, but this sophism has been sufficiently punc- 
tured by superior Soviet accomplishments. What has 
not been sufficiently emphasized is the fact that what- 
ever artistic accomplishments the American film can 
show during at least the first ten years of its existence, 
especially by way of montage, are either the achieve- 
ments, or the imitation of the achievements, of one 
man. And we have already seen that Griffiith, even 
though he towered far above anyone else in the epoch 
dominated by his name, failed basically. But Griffith 
at his best distincdy knew how to "cut" — indeed, how 
to mount — along at least metrical lines, and sometimes 
in a starding way prophetic of Eisenstein's overtones. 
(Broken Blossoms.) 

Even in his two-reeler, The Massacre, produced in 
1910, five years before The Birth of a Nation, Griffith 
created a rotation of sharply conflicting long shots and 
closeups, in the climax, which could not be questioned 
from the standpoint of simple metrics (length of the 
images, progressive acceleration of tempo, etc.) This 
was "cutting' 'with a vengeance! In fact, it was mont- 
age, and every American director and cutter means 
precisely this when he talks — so superficially, so stupid- 
ly — about knowing how to "cut" a film. But the 
American crowd since Griffith, with the same acci- 
dental exceptions as heretofore noted (mostly drifting 
in from other countries where Griffiith's pictures were 
studied), knows nothing beyond this elementary A-B- 
C metrical conception of film-montage. AndVhe ignor- 
ance today is greater than ever, for the talking film 
has caught the Hollywood crowd intellectually unpre- 
pared to meet its far more complex — and more pro- 
blematic — demands, so that even those wise, wise "ex- 
perienced" directors, the long-term job-holders from the 
silent era, give ever-increasing evidence of their inabil- 
ity to handle '.the themes they are confronted with. 


To complete this picture of Hollywood's senile de- 
cay, we have only to look at one classical example from 
the continuity of a Soviet film to perceive how, even 
in the field of elementary metrical cutting, the Holly- 
wood movie directors have failed to master, in any 
sense of the word, the medium which they have so 
viciously degraded. This section of a sequence in Dovz- 
henko's Arsenal will enable us to decide conclusively 
whether in Hollywood they have a right even to men- 
tion the word "montage": 

749 Interior of an empty room. The Bolshevik and the 
Menshevik face each other at some distance. 

750-761 A series of constantly enlarging closeups of the two 

762 The Menshevik points his revolver. 

763 Street fighting outside. 

764 The Menshevik points . . . aims. 

765 The street. Bolsheviks gaining. 

766 The little Bolshevik walks over to the wall. He stands 
with his face to it. Waits. Suddenly he turns . . . 

767 Bolshevik troops racing over the snow. At furious speed. 

768 The little Bolshevik advances to the center of the room, 
squarely facing his opponent. 

769 Red troops rounding a bend in the road. Toward the city. 

770 The Menshevik takes aim. 

771 Bolshevik soldiers on the run. 

772 Red troops gaining. 

773 Totality shot of city street (from high angle above). 
Terrible confusion. Red troops pressing ahead. 

774 Totality shot interior room. (Taken from above). The 
Bolshevik and the Menshevik face to face. The Menshe- 
vik trembles as he points his gun at the Bolshevik. 

775 Closeup of Menshevik's hand (three-quarter range). Bol- 
shevik enters picture-frame from opposite side of cadre. 

776 Closeup Menshevik. 

777 Closeup Bolshevik. 

(The Bolshevik) "Can't you do it looking in my eyes?" 

778 Closeup Bolshevik. (Cut-back 777). 

779 Closeup Menshevik, frightened. 

780 Closeup Bolshevik, fierce. 
Tide: (The Bolshevik) "I can." 

781 Closeup revolver in Menshevik's hand. The Bolshevik 
suddenly seizes the revolver by the muzzle. 

782 Closeup Menshevik. His right forefinger is still crooked 
as if it were still pressing the pistol-trigger. It makes a 
reflex-movement, pulling an imaginary trigger in space. 
It repeats the motion a few times while the Menshevik 
stares, blankly. 

783 Closeup Bolshevik. He raises the pistol and levels it at 
the Menshevik. 

*784 Closeup Menshevik. He gulps. 27 frames. 
**785 A pile of exploded, smoking shells. 36 frames. 

*786 Totality shot of room, taken from above. The Menshevik 
lies dead on the floor. The Bolshevik stands over him 
with smoking pistol. No movement. Smoke fades off .... 
113 frames, including a 21-frame fade-out. 

In another article I characterized this as a "fiery, 
Heraclitean continuity," emphasizing the "intoxicat- 
ing interplay of conflicting elements (collision of shots, 
collision of angles, collision of tempos, collision of 

sizes, collision of movement-forms, etc.) culminating 
in the image of shells already exploded" . . . "develop- 
ment of actions and lines of movement unified in a 
single synthetic impulse" . . . actions "converging in 
one impulse toward the climax-image of the whole 
unit (**yS^)" . , . ."a dialectical solution of move- 

And it is needless to point out the clarity of 
Dovzhenko's image-structure, its compelling force, its 
simplicity of motion-line. 

Needless, too, to mention that the Soviet cinema 
offers an astonishingly large number of similar in- 
stances which, even in the most elemental spheres 
of construction, beat Hollywood at its own game. 

As a matter of fact, montage, that is to say, the whole 
point and essence of the motion picture — is a stranger 
that can hardly be said to have been won over by Hol- 
lywood's gold. 

There remains only one point to complete our 
outline of the conception of the cinema that prevails 
in the Soviet Union. The Russian directors do not 
"cut" their films. They do not "break up" their scenes, 
to use the stock-in-trade Hollywood expression. 

They regard the cutting-process rather as an assem- 
bling-process, and the division of the master scenes 
into long shots, closeups, etc., not really as a division, 
but as a geometric building-up and unification of vital 
elements inherent in the scene, and they emphatically, 
and with irrefutable logic, maintain that this assem- 
bling-process and this building-up is the logical con- 
tinuation of the director's function after he leaves the 
set where the scene was photographed. 

Having already begun to create a reality (film-reali- 
ty) on the set and on the field, they ask why should 
the director now abandon his half-formed microcosm, 
the film, at this vital point, where the multitudinous 
fragments of his creation require to be organized and 
coordinated in their delicate, complex relationships of 
time and space and psychological associations? 

So much for the general aspects of the theory and 
conception of cinema which the Russians have evolved. 
I have merely sketched it, regretfully forcing myself 
to omit its deeper aspects, its various radical, left-wing 
schools (Vertov, Eisenstein, Kaufman, etc.) and its 
profound and starding contributions to the physiolog- 
ical theory of esthetics and emotion. 

In the next issue of Experimental Cinema I shall 
present in review the standard methods, traditions 
and 'ideas" of the American bourgeois cinema and 
see how they measure up to the system of montage- 
logic that has just been discussed. 

Hollywood: Sales Agent of American Imperialism 

Continued from page 20 

patriots of 1868, — the majority of them were slave- 
owners, — was to declare their Negroes free. So, in both 
wars of independence, 1868 to 1878 and 1895 to 1898, 
Negroes and whites fought for liberty, shoulder to 
shoulder, against the tyranny of Spain, their secular 

So we do not have that terrific racial antagonism. 


But things are changing, owing to the Hollywood 
pictures and to the Cuban youth in America. In Amer- 
ican films, Negroes are cowards, superstitious, dumb 
or at least a ridiculous entity, nothing but serfs. There 
is not a single shot of Negroes like Langston Hughes' 
workers and students, who after a brilliant graduation 
from some university cannot get anything but a job in 


a Pullman, shining the shoes of the great "senores," 
the bosses, or cleaning spitoons. 

This depiction of their race has evidently affected 
the Negroes' confidence in themselves, handicapping 
them in the effort to dominate their taras. I expect and 
hope that the Cuban Negro leaders will advise their 
brothers everywhere to boycott the American pictures. 

The white Cuban has always appreciated the Negro 
as a human being, having the same right to happiness 
and consideration as himself The Cuban Negro has 
a powerful imagination, a fine sensitiveness, and he 
is a quick and clever thinker. His individual and class 
development is astonishing. In the public school, in the 
Provincial Institutes, — there are six of these, one in 
every Province, and they are equivalent to high schools 
in the U.S.A., — as well as in the National University,* 
the Negro students often get the highest honors and 
are the best exponents of learning and are deeply 
esteemed and admired by their white comrades. 

What is the attitude of the Cuban critics and intel- 
lectuals toward Hollywood films ? 

Petit bourgeoisie as they are, the Cuban critics and 
intellectuals are deeply interested in idealistic philo- 
sophical schools and other hocus-pocus, most of them 
suffering from an irremediable spiritual and mental 
psychosis, being diseased with a rotten social politco- 
economic conception. They praised such pictures as 
The Smiling Lieutenant, Strangers May Kiss, Anna 
Christie, etc., and they either let pass Storm Over Asia, 
The New Babylon and The End of St. Petersburg 
without any comment or they charged them with the 
accusation of "propaganda," as if every art in the 
world has been anything else but a vehicle to carry 
on and extend the idea or the message of its author, 
i.e., propaganda. 

Very few of the Cuban critics and intellectuals have 
seen Potemkjn or the old American films, like Way 
Down East or Broken Blossoms, for instance. They 
have been interested in the films only for the past five 
or six years, when European literati began to make 
so much noise about the new art, "Chaplin the ge- 
nius," etc., and I do not believe they know anything 
either about cutting or montage, ignoring the fact that 
these are the backbone, the very nerve, of cinema art. 
I do not hesitate in affirming that not one of our es- 
thetes, art critics and intellectuals has heard of Eisen- 
stein's theories of cinematic arts, based on dialectic ma- 
terialism, the philosophy so deeply hated by them all. 

They do not realize that the cinema is in its inner 
essence dialectic and revolutionary, nor are they aware 
of Hollywood's terrible miscomprehension of the most 
authentic values of the cinema, as is evident in its 
everyday use — I better say mis-use — of montage and 
sound. They have accepted the talkies in the Holly- 
wood way, and those pictures, mere copies or photo- 
graphs of theatrical pieces — operettas, musical come- 

dies, dramas, melodramas — are nothing but manifest- 
ations of demode artistic forms and concepts. 

I have said before that the American film is furiously 
individualistic. It is based On unbridled egotism. But 
what else is the capitalist system if not a hymn of 
glorification of the individual, at least concerning 
matters of appropriation and exploitation? One of the 
principal differences between the American and the 
Soviet films is this: the former looks back to the past, 
trying to perpetuate and maintain it; the latter, with 
a profound social significance, looks to the future. 

To sum up: Every film made in the U.S.A., — and 
the U.S.A. is the very essence of capitalism in its final 
stage, — contains an implicit attack on the proletariat 
and on those countries that are rich in prime raw mater- 
ials and in economic possibilities, which the imperialist 
robbers are seeking. I have never seen projected in an 
American film the fundamental inequality between 
bourgeosie and proletariat. 

According to Marx, the arts are based on the economic 
structure. Nikolai Bukharin in his important work, 
Historical Materialism , A System of Sociology ,Chapt. IV, 
p. 196, says: "Directly or indirectly, art is ultimately 
determined in various ways by the economic structure 
and by the stage of development of the social tech- 

So, the cinema must express the real sentiments and 
thoughts of this historical moment, and, being revo- 
lutionary, it must work for the destruction of the pre- 
sent social forms. Then it will be in accord with that 
dialectic and revolutionary essence which I mentioned 
before. This is what happens in the case of the Soviet 
films, but not so with the Hollywood pictures, which 
are fetters, holding up and impeding the development 
of the new art. There is a sharp contradiction between 
the purposes for which American Capital is using the 
cinema and the cinema's inner and authentic essence. 

Every class in its dominating period has developed 
an art of a particular mood or school of art, reinforc- 
ing its domination through that art. So the proletariat 
will develop the cinema and make it fulfill its maxi- 
mum possibilities. 

Controlled by the bourgeoisie for its own benefit 
and used against the exploited, very soon the cinema 
will turn itself, — for dialectical reasons, — against the 
bourgeoisie, helping the proletariat in its inevitable 
historical rise to power and contributing to put an 
end to what Karl Marx called "the closing chapter of 
the prehistoric stage of human society." 

— La Habana, Cuba. 

* All the Provincial Institutes and the National University 
the latter founded in 1728, have been closed and sup- 
pressed, from September 30, 1930 to the present, by 
Machado's government because the students bitterly pro- 
tested against the brutal regime and against American 
imperialism. Machado, like practically every president 
of Cuba, is an agent of American imperialism. 




It is now the end of the third year that 
the films of the Soviet Union have been 
shown in Hollywood. In little more than 
three yean' time, twenty-nine Soviet 
pictures, including; one made in Ger- 
many by a Soviet director, have appeared 
on the screens of the American film- 

The first ones to be shown were Potem- 
kin and Taritsch's old film, Czar Ivan 
the Terrible. Both these productions were 
released almost simultaneously in the 
winter of 1929. Potemkin, according to 
a report, had been privately shown to 
members of the American film-industry 
in 1928, but its first public exhibition in 
Southern California that we have record 
of, took place in the following year. Ivan 
the Terrible was not so successful a* 
Potemkin, but it obviously made a deep 
impression on those who saw it, for its 
influence was detectable in a certain Hol- 
lywood production shortly afterwards. 

After Potemkin had been displayed in 
any number of theatres in and around 
Los Angeles and Hollywood, came a long 
stretch when no one heard anything fur- 
ther about Soviet films. But soon rumors 
began to come across the country from 
New York, and friends of Russia heard 
or read stories of the sensational New 
York receptions accorded such pictures as 
End of St. Peterburg, Ten Days That 
Shook the World and several others. 

Pudovkin's powerful film of the Rus- 
sian Revolution, The End of St. Peters- 
burg, was shown in 1929 at a Fox thea- 
tre in San Francisco. According to re- 
ports, it was received with great enthus- 
iasm and was therefore quickly withdrawn. 
In the interests, no doubt, of "giving the 
public what it wants"! 

Later that same year, the Filmarte 
Theatre in Hollywood was renovated and 
opened under new management. In the 
beginning this management was content 
to 6how revivals of classic American pic- 
tures and it succeeded in obtaining prints 
of such rare pictures as Intolerance, Birth 
of a Nation, Broken Blossoms, etc., (but, 
unfortunately, not of Greed). Shortly 
thereafter, someone informed the man- 
agers about the Russian films, requesting 
them to communicate with the Amkino 
Corporation in New York. Other requests, 
based on rumors and reports that had 
reached Hollywood, were brought to the 
attention of the Filmarte people. The 
latter opened negotiations with New 
York, and before long it became the habit 
of a large group of people in Hollywood 
to look forward to that sanctified Friday 
night on which a new one of those 
strange, startling and generally over- 
powering Bolshevik films would be shown, 
with Amkino's trade-mark of the sun 
rising over the earth as a significant fore- 
runner to the images themselves 1 

Here is a complete list of the Russian 


films shown to date at this theatre, in 
the order of their exhibition: 


(Das Dorf der Sunde) 

(Das Weib des Gardisten) 




(Zuchthaus Nach Sibirien) 

(Revolt in Kazan) 

(Der Gelbe Pass) 

(Kampf Um Paris) 

LINE) (Der Kampf um die Erde) 
PAMIR (Expeditionary Film) 










STORM OVER ASIA (revival) 





In addition to the foregoing, The Bro- 
thers Karamazov, directed in Germany by 
Ozep (who made The Yellow Pass), was 
recently shown at the California Theatre 
in Los Angeles and is to be brought to 
the Filmarte in Hollywood sometime next 

Thus, twenty-nine Soviet films in all, 
of which one, Storm Over Asia, was run 
a second time less than six months after 
its initial showing, have come to Holly- 

The directors whose work has been 
represented in this collection of films are: 
Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Pudovkin, Ilya 
Trauberg, Kozinstov, L. Trauberg, Ozep, 
Victor Turin, Raismann, Ermler, Tar- 
itsch, Stabavoj, Preobrazhenskaja, Ekk, 
and others. 

It is a good list, from one point of 
view — namely, its variety and volume. 
But on the other hand, it is quite incom- 
plete. The Soviet Cinema is a fertile and 
productive field of artistic labor. The 
number of it6 preeminent films exceeds 
that of all other nations taken together. 

And we have not yet seen the 
films of Dziga Vertov, Alexander Room, 
Esther Schub, M. Kaufmann, Lev Kule- 
schov, or the LEFT-group of Lenin- 
grad. Very important productions from 
the USSR must therefore yet be shown 
here. Among others: Room's two famous 
pictures, Bed and Sofa and The Ghost 
That Never Returns; Vertov's Enthus- 
iasm and The Man With the Movie 
Camera; Kuleshov's filmization of a 
Jack London story (titled, Expiation) s 
Kaufmann's recent picture, Spring; and 
Alone (Kozinstov's and Trauberg's new 

Besides these, the Filmarte Theatre 
still has the task of trying to secure a 
print of The End of St. Petersburg. The 
managers of this theatre have made re- 
peated attempts to obtain this colossal 
picture, but for various reasons all efforts 
have so far been unsuccessful. One rea- 
son is that the picture has been involved 
in a great deal of litigation in New 
York, having been withheld from public 
showing in the past year by Arthur Ham- 
merstein, who bought the American rights 
to it in Germany. 

Hammerstein returned to the United 
States not having the slightest idea of 
how to "put over" a film of this type. 
S/. Petersburg opened at the Hammer- 
stein Theatre on Broadway on an all-day- 
run (continuous show) policy. This was 
a mistake from the start, since the nature 
of the picture urgently required that it 
he seen by the audience from the begin- 
ning to the end, in sequence, and there- 
fore on definite schedule. The next mis- 
take was the advertising, which was al- 
together hopeless. The third mistake was 
the musical score for which Hammerstein 
hired a complete film-orchestra. This 
score was utterly out of spirit with the 
picture, the leader of the orchestra hav- 
ing decided that it would be all right to 
play the Song of the Flame (from one 
of Hammerstein's operettas) as a theme- 
piece. And to crown all these tragedies 
was the circumstance of the geographical 
location of the Hammerstein Theatre on 
upper Broadway, somewhat beyond the 
main theatrical district of New York. 

So The End of St. Petersburg, because 
of these and other factors, not the least 
important of which was the butchery com- 
mitted by a Federal censor sent up from 
Washington, D.C., especially for this job, 
was not the sweeping success in the East 
that it would have been if more favor- 
able conditions had prevailed. While in 
Berlin this picture became the rage for 
two solid seasons, in New York its suc- 
cess was less marked because of the 
above-mentioned reasons. The result was 
that Hammerstein lost money on it, and 
he seemed unable to make up his mind 
whether or not to road-show it. Amkino 
then tried to buy the print back. Between 
Hammerstein's vacillations and the dick- 
erings of Amkino, The End of St. Peters- 
burg retired modestly into seclusion I 

Yet, in spite of this, it ran at the Roxy 
Theatre, the largest house in New York, 
where it was held over a second week. 
In Detroit it ran three weeks at a large 
Fox house. In other cities its success was 
proportionate. But after three years we 
have not' yet had the opportunity of wit- 
nessing how Hollywood will take to this 
gigantic film. 



A "candid camera close-up" of a scene at the banquet of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts 
and Sciences (of Hollywood, Cal.J on November u, 1931. The "candid camera," which 
"pictures natural character studies of its subjects while they are unaware of its presence," here 
shows Vice-President (of the U.S.A. I Charles E. Curtis (at right) in a pleasant little chat with 
his sister, Mrs. Dolly Gann (at left). For those especially interested in the study of "motion pic- 
ture arts and sciences." it will undoubtedly be valuable information to /(now that Mrs. Gann 
wore "a white chiffon gown, exquisitely appliqued with white taffeta medallions embroidered 
with gold thread. And real orchids." Photo courtesy Los Angeles Evening Herald. 

Another "candid camera 
study" of a scene at the cele- 
brated Academy banquet. 
Standing, is "Czar" Will 
Hays, uncrowned emperor of 
the movie industry, in the 
midst of an interesting speech 
on the "progress" of Ameri- 
can movies, while the gentle- 
man so visibly asleep (second 
from left I is none other than 
Charles Curtis. Vice-President 
of the U.S.A. The first figure 
on left, with face upturned 
toward the speaker, is lames 
Rolph, Governor of the State 
of California, sometimes re- 
ferred to as "Sunny Jim" (N. 
B. — for his wonderful smile I . 
To right of the Vice-President 
sits Louis B. Mayer, erstwhile 
ambassador to Turkey-to-be. 
now High Mogul of M-G-M. 
Next to him is Mrs. Dolly 
Gann. the Vice-President's 
sister, her eyes devoted to 
speaker Hays. Photo courtesy 
Los Angeles Evening Herald. 

Interesting in this connection is the 
fact that Pudovkin's other picture, Storm 
Over Asia, proved to be the most popular 
of all the Russian films shown in Holly- 
wood. It played for two weeks at the 
Filmarte, packing the house with crowds 
that received it with enthusiastic ap- 
plause. This was especially significant in 
view of the antagonism toward the yel- 
low race that the fruit-capitalists of South- 
ern California have tried to foster among 
the population of this section. 

The fame of Storm Over Asia spread 
throughout the northern district of South- 
ern California, and people came to see 
it from towns twenty, thirty and fifty 
miles away, — from Long Beach, Santa 
Ana, Laguna, Riverside and even from 
Santa Barbara, ninety miles up the coast. 
In consequence, it was brought back to 
the Filmarte six months later for a sec- 
ond run. 

The majority of the other Soviet films 
shown in Hollywood were also very popu- 
lar. The outstanding successes among 
these were: Potemkin, Old and New, Ten 
Days That Shook the World, A Frag- 
ment of an Empire — extremely successful 
— China Express, Turk-Sib, Her Way of 
Love, Old Siberia, The Road to Life, 
and The Five Year Plan. 

As these films continued to be shown, 
one after another, increasing groups of 
new people came to see them, while the 
audiences who had followed them from 
the beginning came to expect higher 
standards and more finished results. Such 
results were not always forthcoming due 
to the fact that the order in which the 
Russian films were shown in Hollywood 
was not coincident with the order in 
which they had been produced in the US 
SR. Therefore, it often happened that after 
an exceptionally wonderful film was 
shown, a poorer one, which had been 
produced several years earlier, followed 
it up. And a number of these poorer 
pictures were decided failures, both artist- 
ically and commercially. Such as: The 
Lash of the Czar, Cities and Years and 
A Son of the Land. But there is no doubt 
that if they had been released three years 
ago, before Ten Days, Arsenal and other 
pictures of a high standard, they would 
not have been such commercial failures. 
In this respect, it is interesting to note 
that Cain and Arlem, Al Yemen, and 
Igdenbu, three pictures of minor signifi- 
cance, were quite popular at the Film- 
arte, but were very disappointing to the 
studio-people and intellectuals. 

(For details concerning the exhibition 
and reception of the other Soviet films 
shown in Hollywood during the past two 
years, see the Hollywood Bulletin in "Ex- 
perimental Cinema," Nos. 2 and 3.) 


The organization which styles itself the 
"Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 
Sciences" of Hollywood (!) had a rather 
hectic time of it in its assignment of 
awards on Nov. 10. It awarded the var- 
ious prizes for the year's "artistic" achieve- 
ments (sic), amid a terrifying gush of 
ballyhoo and vulgar publicity, the hub 
of which was the dozing schnozzle of 
Vice-President (of the U. S. A.) Charlie 
Curtis. The dinner at which this august 
personage somnambulistically presided 
over the Academy's august events need 

not be described: only a film (in the man- 
ner of Pudovkin's patriotic parade in 
The End of St. Petersburg could convey 
an idea of its stu-pen-dous cultural im- 
portance. On the opposite page you may 
get a feeble idea of what this beatific 
banquet was like. 

The awards made by the Academy rais- 
ed a storm. Although few people in Hol- 
lywood took the whole circus seriously, 
the cameramen were aroused. They were 
incensed over the Academy's selection of 
the photography of Tabu as the "best 
photographic work" of the year. Their 
protestations were based on solid reason- 

Tabu, they claimed, was not a regular 
studio-made picture. It was produced en- 
tirely independent of studio-supervision, 
and it took approximately two years to 
complete. Furthermore, they objected, it 
is easy to shoot a film in the South Sea 
Islands, where climate, quality of at- 
mosphere and many other material and 
natural conditions are overwhelmingly 
in your favor. This is quite a different 
thing from shooting pictures in a dull, 
flat-toned real-estate bedlam like Holly- 

Up to this point the arguments of the 
cameramen, so wrathful at not having 
been considered for the coveted Academy 
"honor," were logical beyond dispute. 
But there was another angle to their ob- 
jections, an angle which reveals some 
illuminating features of the peculiar psy- 
chology of the American movie-crowd. 
These precious photographic geniuses of 
the Hollywood film-industry were all 
"hot and bothered" because the photo- 
grapher of Tabu, so they maintained, was 
not a "recognized" photographer. 

Exactly what does this mean? What 
do they mean when they speak of a 
photographer being "recognized" or "un- 
recognized"? Who does the recognizing? 
By whose standards and by whose law 
is an "outcast" photographer "not re- 

The answer, in our opinion, is quite 
simple and can be expressed without any 
technical red tape. A movie photographer 
is "recognized" in Hollywood when he 
is socially and economically a member 
of the cameramen's clique; when he is 
a mejnber of the cameramen's union 
(virtually a social club), when he is "one 
of the boys," as they say; when he plays 
a good game of poker with his fellow- 
cameramen, or otherwise "gets in the 
swim" of their social activities. 

Being a "recognized" photographer, 
according to the cameramen's union, be- 
ing considered worthy enough to be given 
awards, honors, mentions, etc., has little, 
if anything, to do with one's photographic 
creative abilities. "Creative photographic 
ability," as a matter of fact, means only 
one thing in Hollywood: ability to photo- 
graph a weeping-willow tree so that it 
resembles a nineteenth-century pastoral 
of a quiet English countryside, ability 
to photograph a baby (ain't-it-cute, etc.), 
afb'ility to photograph a cross or some 
other religious symbol with emphasis on 
its sentimental appeal. This is "creative 
photography" a la Hollywood. 

(To appreciate the extent to which 
this bogus conception of photography pre- 
vails in the American movie-capital, look 
through any issue of International Photo- 

grapher. Its pages are filled with senti- 
mental scenics of willow trees, children 
on lawns, the cliffs at Laguna, picture- 
postcard views of interior scenery in 
Southern " California and thousands of 
other examples of obvious, sentimental, 
bourgeois photography. Most of these 
reproductions are the efforts of camera- 
men engaged in the industry.) 

Thus, while on one hand we fully agree 
with the protests of the Hollywood 
cameramen against the Academy's award 
to Tabu as far as these protests are based 
on comparisons between working-condi- 
tions on the Murnau-Flaherty production 
and working-conditions in Hollywood, 
on the other hand, we fail to see what the 
status of Murnau's photographer has to 
do with it. As a matter of principle, we 
do not understand just where this issue 
of "recognition" or "non-recognition" 
comes in. Most Hollywood cameramen 
are so jealous and so completely flushed 
with a sense of inferiority when they see 
a Soviet picture, that they either condemn 
the picture wildly or shut their eyes 
to the tremendous power and honesty of 
Soviet camera-work. They do not "recog- 
nize" this camera-work. But does this 
mean anything? Is Soviet film-photo- 
graphy bad photography, because Holly- 
wood photographers feel injured by the 
comparison? Certainly not. 

The cameramen's union of Hollywood 
understands very well why it has erected 
the insuperable barrier of an initiation- 
fee that ranges from $750.00 to $1000.00. 
The cameramen's clique of Hollywood 
has no desire to encourage new talent, 
to afford young creative ability a chance 
to function. What does it care if there 
be ten Tisses at the gates of Hollywood? 
If it is moved at all by this fact, it will 
be moved to crush them and to shut its 
gates. It does not "recognize" any other 
photography except its own or that which 
it sanctions for its own purposes as an ex- 
clusive economic clique, regardless of how 
excellent, how truly wonderful other 
photography may be. It is therefore sim- 
ply another manifestation of that nar- 
row, ignorant outlook on the cinema- 
tic accomplishments of other nations 
which seems to be an inveterate charac- 
teristic of the Hollywood movie-mind. 


Shortly after our third number appear- 
ed, our esteemed contemporary, the Hol- 
lywood Spectator (formerly the Film 
Spectator) in its issue of September 26, 
1931, took space to say a few remarks 
concerning Experimental Cinema, prole- 
tariat art and the question of propaganda. 
The writer stated that he was "suspic- 
ious" when he read (in E. C. No. 3) 
that the magazine would 'succeed in esta- 
blishing the ideological and organization- 
al foundations of an American working- 
class cinema.' And he said that he was 
"surfeited" when he read comments on 
'the American imperialist policy,' 'capital- 
ist propaganda' and 'working-class aud- 
iences.' He went on to say that he did 
not recall "ever having met a man who 
considered himself permanently a mem- 
ber of the working class. I know many 
who are undoubtedly members of such a 
class, but they will bristle at the sugges- 
tion. The American as a race is young 
and optimistic. He is content with the 
present system because there is fat in it. 


If he can not secure the fat, his children 
will, or his children's children — and they 
will secure it without the fuss and 6trife 
of revolution. That is his dream. A dream 
may be untrue, but while it endures its 
potency is unquestionable." 

It is precisely because, as the Spectator 
has so clearly stated, the American work- 
er is not yet class-counscious, that Exper- 
imental Cinema is greatly concerned about 
the production of workers' films in Amer- 
ica and it is, similarly, because we recog- 
nize the idiocy and futility of the tradi- 
tional dream that in America every 
worker has the chance of becoming rich, 
that we are earnestly and relentlessly 
striving to establish in this country a 
cinema which will analyze and destroy 
that dream in all its imbecilic aspects. 

In this connection we may make the 
statement that life itself, in the form of de- 
pression, hunger and unprecedented cap- 
italist brutality toward the working-class, 
is helping to burst this bubble. No doubt 
the Spectator is more or less dimly aware 
of the mass bread-lines of the Eastern and 
mid-Western cities, of the mass hunger 
in "sunny California" and of such inter- 
nationally famous instances of capitalist 
America's "brotherly attitude" toward its 
wage-slaves as the incarceration of Tom 
Mooney, the murder of Sacco and Van- 
zetti, the massacring of Negroes, mine- 
workers, etc. But perhaps the Spectator, 
though it may have heard something of 
the foregoing events (not to be thought 
of, however, as possible material for a 
movie-comedy or a bedroom "art" mas- 
terpiece), is not yet acquainted with less 
publicized affairs such as the present 
reign of terror in Harlan, Kentucky, or 
the endless number of cases of industrial 
persecution, stool pigeon espionage, police 
bestiality and incommunicado imprison- 
ments in the bastiles of America. Possibly 
— but we have no illusions — if the Specta- 
tor were even remotely acquainted with 
some aspects of the class-war that is tak- 
ing shape beneath the smooth, glittering 
surface of American "civilization," it 
would realize to what extent life itself is 
justifying our cinema ideology and our 
film production policy. Verily, "a dream 
may be untrue, but while it endures, its 
potency is unquestionable." We believe 
the dream is breaking up now. We mere- 
ly want to assist in the operation and 
establish a new "potency" actuated by a 
different vision of society. 

We cannot refrain from quoting a few 
lines further from the Spectator's intrig- 
uing rumination. This, for example: "The 
mass impulse in art, such as Experimental 
Cinema champions, is stultifying and prig- 
gish, irrespective of what religious cause 
it involves." 

We have reason to believe that the 
Spectator has little, if any, understanding 
of what is meant by "proletarian art"; 
but regardless of what it thinks we mean, 
does it not occur to the Spectator that it 
is being somewhat hypocritical and two- 
faced when it attempts to deny "the mass 
impulse in art" side by side with its ortho- 
dox championing of the most grossly 
standardized and crudely vulgar film 
"industry" in the world? What has sud- 
denly happened to the Spectator's "box- 
office art"? What has suddenly become 
of the glorified Hollywood ideal of pro- 
ducing "art" films for twelve-year-old 


minds and mental defectives? Truly, our 
friends, we are "surfeited" ! 

The Spectator concluded its meditation 
in a rather strange and, we think, contra- 
dictory way. It assured its readers that 
Experimental Cinema "will never be read 
by the working class it seeks to unshackle, 
but the best minds of Hollywood may 
make some money out of its suggestions." 
What an irony that a "suspicious" pro- 
letarian film journal should be called 
upon to supply Hollywood's purported 
"best minds" with ideas! We would like 
to know, however, in what way precisely 
the Spectator imagines that the film-ideol- 
ogy represented by Experimental Cinema 
can be grafted on to an opposite system, 
the Hollywood system? And how does it 
reconcile its opinion that we cannot be 
read by the uneducated workers with its 
suggestion that we can provide the "best 
minds" of Hollywood with ideas for fur- 
ther accumulation of money? Has the 
Spectator never heard of "educated mo- 


In a recent conversation with one of 
the editors of Experimental Cinema, 
William K. Howard, director of While 
Gold, expressed himself with regard to 
the Russian cinema. He gave vent to his 
unbounded admiration of the Soviet pro- 
ductions. He said that they were far and 
away the greatest films in the world; 
that they had given an impetus to the 
cinema, the full effects of which could 
not be calculated at the present time. He 
said that up to the time when he first 
saw Soviet films, his interest in cinema 
had begun to slacken and he felt that it 
was hopeless to try to create anything 
worthwhile — the film and its problems 
had become sickeningly commercialized 
and creative activity was utterly impos- 
sible in Hollywood. Then came the Soviet 
product and it stimulated him like an 
electric shock. He became enthusiastic 
again — and he realized the limitless pos- 
sibilities of what could be done in the 

All this was an interesting part of the 
conversation with Mr. Howard. But 
what clearly indicated the man's intel- 
ligence, was his remark concerning mont- 
age. Unlike certain celebrated quacks who 
enjoy the name and position of "big 
directors" in Hollywood, Mr. Howard does 
not profess to know "all about" montage. 
On the contrary, he professes only a super- 
ficial knowledge of it, and consequently, 
as is often the case, we found that he 
understood more about it than he had 

Moreover, Mr. Howard maintained 
that under the present system of things 
in Hollywood, he did not believe it was 
possible to "graft on" to American film- 
production the principles of technique 
which the Russian directors had evoled. 
The reason he believed this to be so, he 
explained, was because the subject-matter 
of the Soviet films, concerning itself bas- 
ically with concepts and ideas, determines, 
necessitates and otherwise conditions the 
Soviet technique, whereas in the Ameri- 
can product the conventional "plot-story" 
and so-called "entertainment" require- 
ments form an insuperable obstacle to 
genuine image-construction at the very 

This statement from a man who has 
made one of the few meritorious films 
produced in the United States impressed 
us as being an honest, practical and in- 
telligent recognition of what the Ameri- 
can movie-system really is. The recent 
attempts of certain directors to "graft 
on" the montage-construction they have 
seen in the Soviet productions are futile 
and wasted efforts. As Mr. Howard put 
it, the only excuse a director can have 
for making fast cuts in the present films 
of Hollywood is to quicken the aud- 
ience's attention, but that excuse in it- 
self is a weak one and inconsistent with 
the montage-ideology. 

Directors who imagine they can pro- 
duce great pictures merely by incorpor- 
ating a lot of quick cuts remind us of 
the "Socialists" and social reformers who 
imagine that they have only to institute 
certain reforms and "clean up" some ugly 
spots in the capitalist system in order 
to get rid of the evil itself and "evolve" 
a better system. It is patch-work, ineffect- 
ive at best, retrogressive at the worst. 

Our friend Bryher, who co-edits Close 
Up with Kenneth MacPherson, had some 
interesting things to say in a recent number 
of the magazine. In a strong and suc- 
cessfully analytical attack against the 
"Hollywood Code" of picture-making, 
she wrote: "Wherever Hollywood has 
been accepted, there has been a definite 
lowering of the standards of cinema." 
We are, of course, heartily in accord 
with this statement, and we believe — 
at least we sincerely hope — that it marks 
a clear recognition on the part of Close 
Up of the character and extent of the 
opposition to Eisenstein's art. 

We maintain that there is no possibil- 
ity of reconciling these two antipodal 
elements: Eisenstein and Hollywood; 
that the two are mutually exclusive; that 
the vanguard film-students throughout the 
world must choose definitely and uncom- 
promisingly between them; that the term 
"Eisenstein" symbolizes everything in the 
cinema that is opposite to, and denied by, 

Bryher herself has very charmingly 
expressed this deep-rooted antithesis in 
a section which we cannot refrain from 

"Consider for instance, how Holly- 
wood would have made Potemkin. 
The story by this time, must be fami- 
liar to all. Sailors on a Russian bat- 
tleship refuse to eat meat covered with 
maggots. The doctor pronounces the 
food edible; men are to be shot for 
their complaint. In the ensuing muti- 
ny their leader is killed. The towns- 
people, curious, indifferent and sym- 
pathetic, are shot down by Cossacks; 
the battleship sailing as it believes to 
death, sees instead the red flag appear 
on the masts of opposing ships. 

"What would America have made of 
such a story? 

"Maggots certainly would not have 
been permitted. Instead we should have 
opened with a sailor's bar, with plenty 
of females in sex-appeal promoting 
dresses and a cheerful song. The doc- 
tor need be little changed, but we 
would have had sinister designs upon 
the heroine who would, of course, 
have survived the perils of the under- 

world because of her love for an old 
father-mother-grandparent or a young 
brother-sister-orphan-child at choice, 
helped by the patent-enamel body 
paint into which American stars are 

"The leader of the mutineers would 
watch the doctor's advances, laugh, 
remember in a cut-back his old mother, 
knock the doctor out, pat the girl out 
of his way and sit down and drink. 
The doctor, not being in uniform, 
would leave muttering in sinister ca- 
mera dissolves. Through the Odessa 
mists, the mutineer and the girl would 
discover love at first sight, to be bro- 
ken apart at the first kiss clutch, by 
the memory of the salior's waiting 
comrades. The heroine, jealous, would 
wander to the steps. Then, since 
Hollywood is wealthy in ideas as well 
as cameras, there are at least three 
directions open to the story. Simple 
love, the sailor is accused falsely by 
the doctor, is about to be shot, but is 
rescued as the sheet drops, by a com- 
rade or the girl; romantic drama, the 
sailor is an officer disguised as a muti- 
neer in order to discover some treach- 
erous plot to overwhelm the ship; or 
a play of gangster life, the ship is 
loaded with alcohol, and the doctor 
and the mutineer are leaders of two 
separate bootlegging establishments. 
But the end of all the stories must be 
the same: a triumphal bridal proces- 
sion down the Odessa steps, Cossacks 
in front with bayonets decorated with 
orange blossoms, sailors behind, the 
folk songs of the world, and on the 
edges, children with doves. The dif- 
ference between this story and Potem- 
kin, is the difference between kitsch 
and art." 

Bryher concludes by suggesting that 
the next time the reader visits an Amer- 
ican movie, he should form a mental pic- 
ture of the way Eisenstein or Pudovkin 
would have treated the same subject and, 
conversely, the next time he sees a Soviet 
film he should imagine in his mind's eye 
how Hollywood would have made it. The 
movie-goer will then understand, says 
Bryher, "why the tinned ideas of Holly- 
wood are so dangerous." 

There is a definite growth of liberal 
and semi-radical sentiment among the 
more intelligent members of the Holly- 
wood film-colony. Some of them even 
read The New Masses, The Left, and other 
publications of the Revolution, but with 
what degree of understanding, apprecia- 
tion and acceptance remains yet to be 

Recently, three individuals prominent 
in the American film-industry have ex- 
pressed themselves openly and unminc- 
ingly on the question of capitalism's 
downfall and the Soviet Union. 

In London Charlie Chaplin recently- 
said that he did not see how the capitalist 
system could endure another five years. 

De Mille, returning from the USSR, 
in an interview published in the Los An- 
geles Record and other papers, was not 
slow in declaring his enthusiasm and 

admiration for the Soviet Union. Even 
before going to Russia, De Mille startled 
everyone by admitting bluntly that "there 
is something rotten at the core of our 


Rowland Brown, director of the film 
Quick Millions, makes no secret of his 
sympathies with the first workers' and 
peasants' republic. One the eve of Nov 
ember 7 (anniversary of the 1917 Revo- 
lution), he sent a cablegram to the Soviet 
Government in which he extended his 
congratulations and stated that the sys- 
tem of society being built up by the 
Soviet Government is "the first real ges- 
ture at civilization." 


Headline on the front page of the Holly- 
Wood Daily Screen World, Saturday, 
May 16: 


Repeated Warnings Against Intelligentsia 
Stuff Have Little Effect on Production" 
Brilliant Thought from Improvement of 
Screen Entertainment, by Frank Woods, 
a paper read at the Hollywood Conven- 
tion of the Society of Motion Picture 
Engineers, May 28: 

"... the news reel remains the one item 
on the theatre program that retains a per- 
manent public appeal. Why is this? The 
reason is perfectly apparent. It tells the 
truth about things of interest. There is 
magic in the truth. Let us not forget this 
phrase. There is magic in the truth." 

From the Hollywood Herald, June 16: 
"The 'housewarming' at Bernie Toplit- 
zky's new Malibu Beach home turned in- 
to one of the largest and most artistic 
parties ever 'thrown' for the picture 
colony. A beach set, 'Paris Streets' with 
cafe exteriors and tables on the strand, 
and an Eiffel Tower illuminated in the 
background, cost in excess of $2,000. 
Two hundred guests, including many in- 
dustry executives, attended, and two or- 
chestras provided Spanish music and jazz, 
respectively. Specialties were contributed 
by Marilyn Miller, Buddy De Sylva, Tom 
Patricola, Harry Rosenthal, Nina May 
McKinney, Gus Shy, June MacCloy, 
Raquel Torres and Dorothy Burgess." 

From Variety, June 23: 
"I am not a radical," Mr. DeMille said, 
"but now things are a question of right 
and wrong .... There is something rot- 
ten at the core of our system." 

From an editorial in the New York Times, 
entitled A Shakespeare for the Films, 
July 27: 

"The movie world is worried. In spite 
of the gigantic growth of the industry, 
with its chains of theatres round the 
world, there is cause for anxiety. Some- 
thing more than the depression is at 
work. One producer defined the trouble: 
We don't know what we want exactly, 
and the public doesn't know what it wants. 
A more thoughtful analysis is offered by 
Marcel Rouff in an article in the Mercure 
de France. He believes that the reason 
for the nralaise in films is revealed by 
the cry of one expert: When shall we 
have a Shakespeare of the cinema? 

it would certainly be most inter- 
esting to see some producer take his eye 
off the older arts, and the box office, and 
give free play to cinema technique, with 
its infinite- possibilities." 
(Ed. Note: No mention was made in this 
editorial of S. M. Eisenstein, or of the 
Soviet cinema.) 

Excerpt from an article in the Los Anges- 
les Times of Sunday, August 9, entitled 
"The Reason Why Greta Garbo Will Not 

"Oh," said Greta, with a little sob of 
pure ecstasy, "I tell you what I like. I 
like to smell horses and look at sunsets." 

Excerpts from the speech of Louis 
B. Mayer, Vice-President in change of 
production of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 
Studios, at the Annual Dinner of the Aca- 
demy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 
as reported in the Los Angeles Examiner 
of November 11 : 

"As one of the founders of the Aca- 
demy, I tonight am thrilled with pride 
as I look upon this gathering, the most 
distinguished ever assembled in the his- 
tory of this institution. 

"From the capital of our nation has 
come Vice-President Curtis. Crossing the 
continent for the special purpose of at- 
tending this gathering, he honors us with 
his presence and the good wishes of the 
President of the United States. 

"Leaving his busy office in Sacramento 
in order to be with us, the chief execu- 
tive of the State of California graces our 
gathering with his presence. Surely this 
assemblage would be woefully incomplete 
without the presence of Governor James 

"Senators, public officials and some 200 
leading newspaper publishers, men whose 
fingers are ever on the public pulse and 
whose wisdom in a great measure guides 
the trend of public affairs, are among our 
distinguished guests." 

"As president of the Producers' As- 
sociation, I perhaps am in a specially ad- 
vantageous position to know just how 
much the industry owes to the Academy 
. . . and I say to you tonight, that it is 
the greatest factor for progress the pro- 
ducing industry has ever known. 

"The producing of pictures is a com- 
plicated affair. It involves every bewilder- 
ment, from the intricate mazes of an ab- 
truse science to the oftentimes equally 
intricate problem of the human equation. 

"In this maze of bewilderment, the 
Academy has been a guiding light, straight- 
ening out our misunderstandings, solv- 
ing our technical problems, helping us 
improve the artistry of our pictures and 
creating greater understanding between 
industry and public. 

"And so tonight we are gathered to 
bestow the symbols of the accomplish- 
ments in the paths of progress. The little 
statuettes to be awarded tonight are, in 
themselves, small things, but their signi- 
ficance is truly great. Each and every 
one stands for an achievement of im- 
portance and benefit not only to us here 
tonight, but to the world at large." 

Recent announcement of the Fox film 


The Yellow Ticket, as advertised in Los 
Angeles newspapers: 






Russia ! . . . Land of drama .. . 

land of licensed love . . . land of 

tyranny . . . where "The Yellow 
Ticket" is a (badge of shame, but 
still a pass of privilege . . .into 
this maelstrom of blackened he.irts 
is woven a courageous romance 
... a love that defied the persecu- 
tion of a nation 

Raoul Walsh's 



On the 22 of January, Nikolai Ekk's 
famous film of the bezprizomie (home- 
less children," "wild boys"), The Road 
to Life, was given its American premiere 
— in Hollywood. This is the first time 
that the premiere of a Soviet film has 
taken place in Hollywood instead of in 
New York. The reason for the change 
in policy is probably due to the keen 
interest that the American movie-indus- 
try has manifested in the question of how 
Russia would come through with sound 

The intelligent minority of Holly- 
wood's technical people have long ago 
freely and spontaneously admitted that, as 
far as silent films were concerned, the 
Soviet producers had Hollywood backed 
off the map. Wherever the silent Soviet 
films were shown, they made Hollywood 
pictures look like old-fashioned penny- 
arcade shows. 

And now the same intelligent minority, 
plus a number of new spectators from the 
commercial and technical departments of 
the American movie-industry, having seen 
The Road to Life, appreciate once again 
how far in advance of Hollywood the 
Soviet cinema has traveled. In the era 
of the silent film, American studios were 
the first to turn out a few films of a higk 
artistic and creative standard. But in the 
new era of the sound-film, Soviet studios 
are the first, and so far the only, ones 
to give practical demonstration of what 
a sound-film should be. 

What are the various reactions to this 
picture? What is being said about it in 

There are many groups and a great 
many types of people in Hollywood. Some 
of the most typical and most vicious 
speciments of the American bourgeoisie, 
classical examples of the leisure class 
in its final stage of decadence, may be 
found here; and, on the other hand, there 
are many who go hungry, who are sys- 
tematically denied the right to a job, 
though they live in the same town where 
"stars," illiterate directors, bathing- 
beauties and other good-looking parasites 
receive hundreds, even thousands, of 
dollars per week. 

So, naturally, there are many different 


reactions to such a strong propaganda 
film as The Road to Life. 

First, the preview audience. (Private 
previews of Soviet films are always held 
at the Filmarte, the only theatre where 
Russian films are shown, a few days in 
advance of the public presentation.) 

This audience comprised, altogether, 
about 60 to 70 individuals. At the film's 
conclusion, they all applauded enthusias- 
tically. It was clear that Ekk's work real- 
ly pleased them because two other Soviet 
productions, The Black Sea Mutiny and 
A Jew at War, were received by this same 
group of people with disappointment and 
general lack of approval. All considered 
The Road to Life one of the foremost 
achievements of the Soviet screen; all 
considered it a film of rare beauty and 

Some formalists, however, found in- 
numerable blunders in Ekk's treatment of 
the theme. The montage of the sequence 
where the bezprizomie break up the ma- 
chine-shop was severely criticized. It was 
charged that in this sequence Ekk's method 
of building up the image-structure was en- 
tirely formless, aimless and weakly con- 
ceived. This criticism was made again in 
reference to the scenes where the crowd 
rushes across the railroad track to the body 
of the dead Mustapha. These shots showed 
the people blackly silhouetted against the 
sky, but in the closer shots the emotional 
mood was different. There were other 
criticisms in kind, mostly concerning 
montage and Ekk's failures in formal 

The general summary of these techni- 
cal (montage) criticisms was that the 
film was "spotty" — wonderful in certain 
spots, faulty in others. Comparisons were 
made with Eisenstcin's montage of cer- 
tain parts of Potemkin. But everyone, 
even the formalists, had praise for the 
ending (the last 500 feet), which was 
called a superlative piece of artistic con- 

It was evident to everyone that on the 
purely mechanical side (i.e., technological 
equipment), Soviet sound studios are not 
up to the capitalist studios of Holly- 
wood. The visual-montage throughout 
The Road to Life is excellent. Sound- 
montage and sound-reproduction, how- 
ever, are by no means on the same quali- 

tative level. The sound-reproduction of 
this picture is not equal to that of the 
most banal American movie. It is greatly 
inferior to that of Ozep's Karamazov. 
Whether this is due entirely to the inferior 
mechanical equipment of Soviet studios 
at the present time, or to a bad print, is 
hard to say. But now and then the sound- 
recording impaired Ekk's film to a great 

The audience at the first public show- 
ing of The Road to Life reacted to it 
with loud applause. Not since Storm Over 
Asia has a Soviet film been so splendidly 
received in Hollywood. The theme is one 
that is sympathetic to an average Amer- 
ican audience. Children and young peo- 
ple have always been in demand on the 
American screen, and here is a film that 
does not treat children and young boys 
with the honey and syrup and the re- 
pulsive sen,timerital dishonesty of the 
so-called "children's picture" manufac- 
tured by Hollywood. On the contrary, 
the honesty and authenticity of Ekk's 
film of the bezprizomie are manifest to 

Yet many people here have criticized 
it as being "too romantic." The emotion- 
alism of the film, they said, was not 
consistent with the clear-cut Marxist poli- 
tical ideology. 

Several others held the characteristi- 
cally bourgeois-American view that the 
film is "superficial" because it fails to 
deal with the "sex problem" of the bez- 
prizomie. These people want to know 
whether the bezprizomie ever engaged in 
sexual intercourse after they entered the 
collective; whether they were allowed 
to play, to amuse themselves, to have 
games, sports, girls, etc. The episode 
where the bezprizomie wreck the machin- 
ery of the collective was interpreted by 
these people as signifying that the bez- 
prizomie were sorely in need of emo- 
tional and sexual release after a long 
winter of relentless work! 

Others found the picture "naive," 
pointing to the fact that in the beginning 
the bezprizomie have fierce, wild, ani- 
mated faces, while toward the end they 
look "sweet" and dress like American 
bourgeois boys. 

Many people declared that the picture 
i3 too long. Others said the opposite, 
maintaining that it is so rich in sub- 
stance and artistry that its length is one 
of its chief virtues. 

There were some individuals, and per- 
haps there will be a few others before the 
picture finishes its run at the Filmarte, 
who found The Road to Life very "arti- 

The most popular scenes were Mus- 
tapha's appearance for the first time, be- 
fore the Soviet Commission for Homeless 
Children and the "funeral train-ride" at 
the end. All audiences have heartily en- 
joyed the former, and it is no exaggera- 
tion to say that this scene alone has 
created a warmer feeling for the Soviet 
Union than anything else in the Soviet 
films shown here in the past season. 

A curious reaction to The Road to Life 
was that of a bourgeois intellectual in 
Hollywood who, because of the "glorifi- 

cation" of the locomotive, accused Ekk 
of a sort of "technological fetishism." 
(Cf. Anisimov'i criticism of Eisenstein 
in Literature of the World Revolution 
No. 3.) 

But on the other hand, many hungry 
people, many people who have long been 
without jobs — Hollywood's unorganized, 
unformed "bread-line" — have managed 
to see The Road to Life. They have not 

asked questions, they have not analyzed 
it, discussed montage or argued about 
"technological fetishism." They simply 
have seen the film and have been tre- 
mendously impressed. 

The success of The Road to Life in 
Hollywood marks the beginning of a 
very promising epoch of Soviet sound- 
films in the United States. 
Hollywood, Calif. 


By G. L. George 

Translated from the French by 

H. J. Salemson 

"Life is Beautiful," a Pudovkin Talkie 

It is almost superfluous to recall the 
calumny which the bourgeois press of 
the entire world was only too happy to 
spread after the preview of this picture 
in Moscow. The report was that, the 
film having been suppressed by Soviet 
censorship, Pudovkin, because of a so- 
called "petit-bourgeois idealism" which 
supposedly pervaded the film, had been 
deprived of his workers' card and banned 
from the Communist Party. He was even 
about to be jailed, they said, and only 
the personal protection of Stalin wa« 
powerful enough to save him from the 
clutches of the G. P. U. Following these 
incidents, Pudovkin, disgusted with work- 
ing in the USSR, was supposed to have 
fled to Berlin in the hope of getting a 
contract that would bring him to Amer- 

It is only too easy to see that this is 
the classical anti-Soviet falsehood, but 
reinforced by those powers interested in 
discrediting the Russian cinema, the uni- 
versally recognized quality of which 
threatens to compete too mercilessly with 
the international movie product. 

Pudovkin immediately answered by a 
letter denying these stupid rumors, but, 
altho the general news press is supposed 
to be independent, it did not deem It 
useful to run this denial. 

Here are a few extracts from Pudov- 
kin'i rectification: "This whole business 
is utterly false and absurd. You know 
how such things take place in Russia. 
The state has given the cinema an edu- 
cational role, in the broadest sense of 
the term. It is not possible for any per- 
son to film anything he pleases. Each 
script, before entering production, is sub- 
mitted to various departments which pass 
upon its cultural, artistic, and ideological 
values. If any details are found amiss, 
the writer is called in, and, together with 
the head of the department in question, 
he corrects his work. 

"A» for my own picture, is was not 
suppressed by censorship. Quite to the 
contrary, it was approved for public show- 
ing. And, as in the case of almost all 
important Russian pictures, it was openly 
discussed in the different circles compe- 
tent to judge it. This criticism, because 

of the extremely varied public opinion 
in USSR, brought up several suggested 
changes in certain parts of my film) 
which is a great point in favor of the 
general feeling of artistic and social re- 
sponsibility on the part of the spectators 
as well as the technicians. 

"My so-called flight from Moscow has 
an equally simple explanation. I am em- 
ployed by the Mejrabpom, Russian name 
of the Workers' International Relief, 
(W. I. R.), which has its headquarters 
in Berlin. My position requires frequent 
commuting between that city and Mos- 
cow. In that manner, I played in The 
Living Corpse, which my old friend Ozep 
was making in Berlin. 

"Conferences have been under way for 
several months to arrange for my going 
to Hollywood and directing a picture, 
employing the technical sound and dia- 
logue equipment used in the California 
studios, an equipment which far surpasses 
that available even in the best studios 
of Europe." 

Since this closes all misunderstanding 
concerning these incidents, let us glance 
at Pudovkin's picture. The scenario, 
which he wrote himself, is briefly this: 

During the civil war, commandant 
Langovoi, a worker returned from the 
front, carries on the fight together with 
his wife Mascha and his childhood pal 
Boris, in the revolutionary ranks. Wound- 
ed in a scuffle, he enters a hospital, after 
sending his wife off to rest in the coun- 
try at the home of a friend. After the 
revolution, life follows it habitual course. 
Langovoi, well once again, becomes at- 
tracted to another woman, a woman of 
society. Her beauty and refinement takes 
him away from his friends. Boris tries 
vainly to bring him back to his work. 
The comrades disapprove of him. Hav- 
ing by chance gone to a club-meeting, 
he is heckled, and it takes all of Boris' 
tact to get him away safely. Thi6 inci- 
dent completely convinces him that he 
no longer has anything in common with 
his onetime companions. But he there- 
upon receives a letter from Mascha, com- 
pletely back to health, announcing her 
return. Before he even has time to con- 
sider what he will do, she arrives. On 
seeing her again, her natural charm, her 
unpainted beauty, he realizes that she is 
really the one he loves and he can for- 
get the other woman and the life away 
from his class, for now, there is no doubt, 
"life is beautiful." 

With this banal story of the new life 
of Russia, the author of The End of Saint 
Petersburg has made an admirable film. 
The sound, recorded by professor Obo- 
Ienski, is used by Pudovkin to such ad- 
vantage that it is obvious that after a 
few laboratory experiments he has learn- 
ed to exploit it to the utmost 

The superlative quality of the photog- 
raphy, a perfect rhythm never interrupted 
in its continuity and harmony, a complete 
comprehension of the individual and col- 
lective souls of the Russian people, and 
especially the "Pudovkin manner," per- 
sonal and vibrant, his exact appreciation 
of the value and duration o fevery im- 
age, these all contribute toward making 
Life is Beautiful, along with Mother, 
the most human and the most pathetic 
of Pudovkin's films. 


A Report from the "Moskauer Rundschau" 
To celebrate the October holidays, 
Soyuskino released a number of new 
films, the most notable of which was 
the sound film Mountains of Gold, di- 
rected by Jutkevitch. The musical score 
was written by the famous Soviet com- 
poser, Shostakovitch. The picture deals 
with the strike of the Putilov-works in 
conjunction with the striking naptha 
workers of Baku in 1914. The hero is a 
peasant who, through a gradual and diffi- 
cult process, becomes a class-conscious 

The direction is good only in parts and 
on the whole it has nothing new to offer, 
for the director retains almost literally 
ideas and images from the films of his 
former good teachers. However, the 
sound treatment and musical score are of 
interest — in fact, at times the director 
becomes so enamored of the spoken word 
that he causes the film to drag, and un- 
pardonable lengths of dialogue escape 
him entirely. 

The themes of the other new films 
of Soyuskino all deal with the contem- 
porary life of the Soviet Union — how 
to overcome a shortage of production in 
a factory, reconstruction of transport, the 
building of important industries, advanc- 
ing education in schools to the status of 
a polytechnicum, mechanisation of the 
Don Basin, industrial and cultural pro- 
gress of the miners, etc., etc. 

Mezhrabpom announces the following 
program of production for this winter: 
Five films are to be released, which are 
likewise to arouse the interest of foreign 
countries. The most prominent one is 
Pudovkin's film The Steamer Piatiletka. 
The hero is a worker from Hamburg who 
is engaged in the shipbuilding industry. 
He is working on the construction of a 
6teamer which is to be delivered to the 
Soviet Union. He is transported on this 
steamer to Russia, and soon takes an 
active part in the great Five- Year-Plan. 
Further details pertaining to this new 
Pudovkin film are unfortunately not avail- 
able at present. Pudovkin, however, just 
returned from a location trip in Ham- 
burg and Odessa and will soon make his 



own report on the progress of his work. 

Two other feature films will be re- 
leased in the near future, The House of 
The Dead and The Horizon. 

The House of the Dead is being direct- 
ed by Fedorov, a co-worker of Meyer- 
hold whose work, Roar, China! is well 
known abroad. The continuity of this 
Dostoievski novel is by Victor Shklovsky, 
one of the most popular film-writers of 
Soviet Russia. (The films, Bulat Batir 
and The Gentlemen Skotininy, and others 
are also by him). In the film The House 
of the Dead, Dovstoievski himself ia the 
leading- character. The central idea is 
Dostoievski's conception that Russia is 
the prison of all peoples. Dostoievski re- 
cognizes this truth — but forced labor 
breaks his will. He then sings hymns 
of praise to the aristocracy, writes reac- 
tionary novels and his final effort, to 

resurrect the revolutionary dreams of his 
youth, comes too late. The Brothers Kara- 
mazov, whose heroes he wanted to make 
into revolutionaries, remains unfinished. 
The Horizon, the other feature sound 
film, is under the direction of Kuleshov, 
the former teacher of Pudovkin. The 
scenario of this film has also been writ- 
ten by Victor Shklovsky. It deals with 
a young Jew in a small town on the 
southern coast of Russia. He struggles 
along and dreams of America. His friends 
try to draw him into the revolutionary 
movement, but he longs for bourgeois 
democracy. He emigrates to the United 
States and is later drafted into the U. S. 
Army, where he gets a thorough drill- 
ing. He begins to realize that there is 
no difference between the Czar's Army 
and the American Army, except that the 
latter has better military equipment. In 

the end he goes with the American Ex- 
peditionary Forces to Siberia. Here he 
deserts and joins the Revolution, to help 
the Bolsheviks in the construction of the 
Soviet Union. 

Another film of the young director, 
Comrade Li-Fu, treats of the Communist 
Revolution in Southern China. The film 
was made on the southern borders of the 
Soviet Union in Central Asia. The cast 
consist mainly of Chinese. 

Finally, the film The War Is Not Yet 
Over, directed by Yrinov, should also be 
mentioned. The montage and sound-treat- 
ment reflect strongly the influence of the 
works of Vertov. (Vertov himself will 
now also work under the banner of 

(Translated by Christel Gang) 

50,000 workers 

and intellectuals in America, organized and functioning in revolu- 
tionary cultural organizations in all sections of the country, have as 
their spokesman, 


Only American Monthly of Revolutionary Art and Literature 

GOLD, LANGSTON HUGHES and a talented young group of 
writers from the mills, mines and factories contribute regularly in 
stories, articles, poems, reviews. 

47 Artists 

WICK, BARD, HERNANDEZ contribute satirical cartoons and 

Workers Art 

all workers cultural activities are reported and discussed in the first 
section on WORKERS ART in any American publication. 

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Vol. I, No. 1 (February 1932) 
ready now 

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The LEFT is the only quarterly review in America pub- 
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THE LEFT is published at 218 W. 3rd St., Davenport, Iowa, and is edited by Jay du Von, Marvin Klein 
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• In no other art have conventional 
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CAST OFF • The art of the modern 





WINTER 1931-1932 ISSUE 

"The Puritan Heresy." a study of American 

Psychology Ay H. P. Parkes 

"1919," selections from the latest novel 

Ay John Dus Paisos 
"Examples of Wallace Stevens," an essay 

by R. P. Blackmur 

"Garbo Dietrich," a chronicle by Kenneth White 

"Dance Credoes and The 'Greeks' " by Angna Enters 
"Six Poems for the Sheriff's Daughter". .by Dudley Fitts 
"Depression Architecture," a chronicle 

Ay John Wheelwright 
"The Poetry of Conrad Aiken," a review 

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"Stories," Ay /. W. Johnson, George Titchcnor 

and L. W. Hubbell 

"Poems" Ay Kenneth White, A. J. M. Smith 

and Wallace Stevens 



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• Recessional is comparable only to Waldo Frank's Holiday in its piercing 
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to meet the problem of his so-called "supremacy". • Here is a play the power 
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Published by Stanley Rose 



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No. 5 



implete synopsis for "QUE VIVA MEXICO" 

It will undoubtedly prove of interest to the readers of Experimental Cinema to 
learn what the group of people publishing this magazine has been doing in the realm of 
cinema since the appearance of the fourth issue. Although publications has been sus- 
pended for virtually one year, this year has been in many respects the most active in 
the history of the magazine. 

On the West Coast several of the editors of Experimental Cinema were privately 
backed to produce a film dealing with the exploitation of labor, and in particular with 
the tragedy of Mexican workers, in agricultural sections of Southern California, notably 
in Imperial Valley and adjacent territory. The preparation for this production consumed 
a great deal of time, but the production itself was foredoomed to the fate of many 
an independent film: viz., to a fatal conflict between producers and production-manager. 
In this instance the conflict arose over the insistent demand of the Experimental Cinema 
staff that the film be an artistic achievement as well as a piece of agitative propaganda. 
The production-manager, however, adhered to the same policy that was adopted by 
the production-manager of Eisenstein's Mexican film, to whom Eisenstein has referred 
as "the evil genius of One Viva Mexico!", and relentlessly opposed making the film 
a creative effort, in which the formal qualities of cinema would share honors with the 
agitative drive of the film. The film, unfortunately, has been scrapped. 

The Experimental Cinema production staff, however, is completing plans for the 
re-financing of this film and intends to remake it in the near future. 

In the Midwest, B. G. Braver-Mann (now in New York) has been revising the 
mss. for his book on the motion picture as an art and social force. This work is 
designed to offer a comprehensive survey of film theory and film practice based upon 
analyses of the montage in the best films and on contact with outstanding film 
directors, technicians, experimenters and theoreticians in Europe and America. Recently 
Braver-Mann made Sewer-Diggers, a short, with Joseph Houdyma, cameraman for 
Dovzhenko's Diplomatic Luggage, Dolyna's Storm and other films. 

In the East, Lewis Jacobs, co-editor of Experimental Cinema, developed during 
the past year and a half a new technique of trailer-making, devising original methods 
of montage for dynamic trailer-composition. Jacobs also produced a short subject, 
As I Walk, which projected in vivid detail the poverty and social misery in New 
York City. 

But the major occupation of the editorial staff of Experimental Cinema since the 
appearance of the fourth issue was the campaign for Eisenstein's Mexican film. This 
was the first organized campaign ever waged in defense of a great work 
of film art, and it was launched by the editors of Experimental Cinema as soon as it 
became unmistakably evident that Upton Sinclair and his wife were ruthlessly de- 
termined to proceed with their plans of destroying Que Viva Mexico! The editors of 
Experimental Cinema decided that, although the Sinclairs might be legally empowered 
to dispose of the film as they saw fit, they should not be permitted to commit this 
act of treachery and vandalism and at the same time escape public censure. 

The campaign formally began when the editors of Experimental Cinema com- 
municated the details of Sinclair's moves to Eisenstein's assistant and representative 
in Mexico City, Augustin Aragon Leiva, with the request that Senor Leiva start a 
public protest in the Mexican press. This protest occupied the front pages of Mexico 
City newspapers for weeks afterwards and its reverberations can still be heard through- 
out Latin America and Europe. In the United States the editors of Experimental 
Cinema built up a nation-wide press campaign against the mangled version of Que 
Viva Mexico! 

The enormous amount of detail involved in this mighty effort to save the film epic 
of Mexico, sidetracked the routine business of publishing the magazine for a period of 
six months. Those readers of Experimental Cinema who know the details of the 
Eisenstein campaign are able to appreciate the campaign as a signal attempt to put into 
practice the editorial policies and theories by which the editors of Experimental Cinema 
have sought to ensure the intellectual and creative integrity of their magazine. 

DURING 1933 . . . . 

v K 


Activities of Experimental Cinema 

During 1933 Inside Front Cover 

Introduction to "Que Viva Mexico!" Seymour Stern 3 
Synopsis for "Que Viva Mexico!" 

S. M. Eisenstein and V. G. Alexandroff 5 

Manifesto on "Que Viva Mexico!" . . . The Editors 14 

Josef von Sternberg B. G. Braver-Mann 17 

My Method A. Dovzhenko 23 

Dziga Vertoff Simon Koster 27 

A Theory of Synchronization Joseph Schillinger 28 

Before and After Conrad Seiler 32 

Letter from U.S.S.R N. Solew 34 

Letter from England E. G. Lightfoot 34 

Dovzhenko Lewis Jacobs 37 

Hollywood News Reels Clay Harris 38 

This Quarter L. J. 40 

Moscow Overtakes and Surpasses H. P. J. Marshall 41 

The Kingdom of Cinema Rene Clair 43 

Fifteen Years of Soviet Cinema ... V. Smirnov 44 

Review of Arnheim's "Film" L. J. 48 

Formal Cinema Kirk Bond 49 

Proletarian Cinema in Japan 52 

Harry Alan Potamkin Irving Lerner 53 

Experimental Cinema in America 54 

The New Deal in Hollywood Hollywood Technician 57 

Scotland and Film Michael Rowan 58 

Hidden! 60 

Index to Experimental Cinema, Vol. I 61 

Contributor's Index 62 


V. G. ALEXANDROFF has been 
co-director and script collaborator on all of 
Eisenstein's films. 

KIRK BOND is a Baltimore film critic 
who has written for Creative Art, Bookman, 
Adelphi, Europa, and HouirJ &c Horn. 

RENE CLAIR, director of Sous les 
Toils <lc Paris. Le Million. A Nous la Liberte, 
and July 14, is equal to Lubitsch in his 
knowledge of the cinema. For several years 
Hollywood has been trying to "buy" him 
for America. Clair is now the "rage" of the 
bourgeois cinema in England and France. 

A. D V Z H E N K O, it is safe to say, 
is the most original director in films today. 


needs no introduction to readers of Exper- 
imental Cinema. He achieved world recogni- 
tion with Cruiser Potemkin in 1926. Since 
then he has become a pacemaker to film 
directors throughout the world. At present, 
Eisenstein is in Moscow engaged on a film 
dealing with the history of Russia. 

CLAY HARRIS, a technician in Hol- 
lywood, is a critic and theoretician well 
known there for his advanced views. 

IRVING LERNER, still and mo- 
tion picture photographer and instructor at 
the Harry Alan Potamkin School of the 
Film, has written many reviews for the 
press here and abroad. 

H. P. J. M A R S H A L L, after some ex- 
perience as an amateur producer of docu- 
mentary films and a period of work with 
John Grierson in Scotland, was given a 
scholarship at the Soviet State Institute of 
Cinema, Moscow; now in his second year has 
been in production as assistant director to 
Ivens on the sound film Komsomol for 
Meschrabpom Studios. 


of the most advanced musical composers in 
America. His compositions have been played 
throughout the world. His excerpt in this 
issue is from a book to be published this 
winter. He has made many experiments in 
color, sound and movement. He brings new 
rhythmic resources to the film. 

V. SMIRNOV until recently was head 
of Amkino, the distributing agency for Soviet 
films in America. At present he is in Moscow 
working in the studios. 

N. SOLE W; A critic and film worker 
in Moscow. He is the U. S. S. R. editor for 
Experimental Cinema. 

CONRAD SEILER is a well-known 
playwright living in Hollywood. He has 
published several books of one-act plays, 
the most popular being Suicide and Other 
One-Act Plays. He has written continuity 
for major film studios and has contributed 
articles to The Nation, The New Republic, 
The Neic Masses, Partisan and other publica- 

DZIGA VERTOFF, founder of the 
Cine-Eye group in the Soviet cinema, has 
been a potent factor in film practice. His 
theories have influenced Soviet directors "to 
break away from the arena of the theatre 
and enter the arena of life." — VertofPs films 
have been of the greatest practical importance 
in the film's struggle to emancipate itself 
from the tricks and conventions of the other 
art media. 


Conrad Seiler, A. C. Jensen, Christel Gang, Agustin 
Aragon Leiva, Neil Brant, J. M. Valdes-Rodrigues, George 
W. Lighton, Somerset Logan, Karel Santar, Lou Sackin. 

U.S.S.R.: N. Solew, P. Attasheva; Paris: G. L. Georgs; 
England: Ralph Bond; Czecho-Slovakia; Karel Sant^r; 
Latin America: Agustin Aragon Leiva. 

BUSINESS OFFICE 51 West 47th Street, New York City 

MAIN EDITORIAL OFFICE 51 West 47th Street, New York City 

HOLLYWOOD OFFICE 1625 N. Vine St., Hollywood, California 

All letters of inquiry, all checks, subscriptions and 
money orders, etc. should be addressed to the editorial 
and business offices of Experimental Cinema, 51 West 
47th street. New York City. Francis Steloff, Business 

All manuscripts should be mailed to the New York 
office of Experimental Cinema and should be accom- 
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the loss or damage of unsolicited material. 

Subscription to Experimental Cinema (four numbers) in U. S. A.: $2.00; Foreign $2.50. 
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Copyright 1934 by LEWIS JACOBS 

This still and the 
shots illustrating 
the synopsis of the 
scenario for "Que 
Viva Mexico!" were 
taken by Edouard 

"The people bear resemblance to the stone images, for 
those images represent the faces of their ancestors . . . 
the same expressions of face as those portrayed on the 
ancient stone carvings." — P. 5, Synopsis for "Que 
Viva Mexico!" 


Introduction to Synopsis (or Que Viva Mexico! 

In presenting the scenario for "Que Viva Mexico.'", 
the editors of Experimental Cinema feel called upon 
to reveal certain facts with which its readers, in- 
cluding the particular students and followers of 
Eisenstein, are probably unacquainted. Descriptions 
and detailed accounts of the scenario, together with 
extensive quotations from it, have already appeared 
in several other periodicals, but the scenario itself, 
in toto and exactly as Eisenstein and his collaborator, 
G. V. Alexandroff, wrote it, is here printed for the 
first time. 

It is, accordingly, the scenario on the basis of 
which Mr. and Mrs. Upton Sinclair have attempted 
to justify their mutilation of Eisenstein's original 
film. The distorted version of "Que Viva Mexico!" 
was finally exhibited, at an unsuccessful public 
engagement in New York City, under the title 
Thunder Over Mexico. 

The editors of Experimental Cinema have fre- 
quently been asked: How does it happen that the 
people responsible for the fraudulent version of 
"Que Viva Mexico!" are in a position to maintain 
that their market-product, Thunder Over Mexico, 
was indeed based upon Eisenstein's own words and 

Before Eisenstein could shoot a single foot of film 
on Mexican soil, he had to satisfy the government 
censor that nothing in the picture would reveal, or 
in any way suggest, the poverty, slavery and general 
degradation of the Mexican masses. Film censorship 
in Mexico is at least as rigid as that of any other 
country, and more severe than that of most 
countries. It is virtually impossible for anyone to 
take even a camera snapshot in Mexico without in- 
curring the interference of the police or some form 
of bureaucratic displeasure. 

Under these conditions it may readily be seen 
that whatever ideas Eisenstein had in mind for the 
production of a film, parts of which would be crit- 
ical of the present regime and of the exploitation of 
the peons and workers of present-day Mexico, would 
necessarily have to be concealed, and not so much as 
a hint of such ideas might be permitted in the 

That the present "official" scenario is pleasantly 
innocuous; that oppression of the peon and the 
Indian is ascribed to the Diaz regime, more than 
twenty-five years ago; and that the finale of the 
story (the much-disputed epilogue), as contained 
herein, is a non-committal catalogue of shots about 
"factories", "athletes", "automobiles," "progress", 
etc., with not the remotest hint of ownership by 
Mexican capitalists or control by Wall Street, and 
with no definite conclusion or climax, — these are 
facts which will be abundantly evident to the 
reader. But certain other facts are also true and 
cannot be ignored by anyone who wishes to evaluate 
this scenario in its proper light: 

First, Eisenstein, as has already been stated, was 
under pressure to win the confidence and coopera- 
tion of the Mexican government, — indeed, to win 
even the mere right of photographing anything 

Secondly, closely connected with this unfortunate 
circumstance is the fact that Eisenstein committed 
a fatal mistake in trusting his sponsor, Mr. Upton 
Sinclair as a "comrade-in-arms" and as a friend of 
the proletariat. The "myth of Upton Sinclair", 
which lingers like a fog in European countries and 
especially in the Soviet Union, clouded the judg- 
ment of the Russian director and blinded him to 
the trap into which he had stepped when he signed 
the contract. The contract, giving ownership, con- 
trol, final power, and supreme decision to the em- 
ployer, without according to the employed even so 
much as the right to edit and mount the material 
after he had shot it, was so cunningly worded 
that those who have seen it find it difficult to blame 
Eisenstein despite his apparent gullibility. Histor- 
ically speaking, it was not the first time an im- 
portant artist has been duped and tricked by his 
patrons. Thus, while Eisenstein agreed in writing 
to produce a so-called "non-political" film, he also 
innocently imagined that Sinclair's fundamental 
loyalty would be to the inevitable Marxian content 
and interpretation of the finished film. 

Trusting the author of The Jungle implicitly, as 
a self-styled friend of the Soviet Union and as a 
self-styled supporter of the working-class move- 
ment, Eisenstein entered cheerfully, and fatally, 
into these written entanglements, — and thereby 
helped to destroy his own creation. Long before the 
camera of Edouard Tisse had shot the last foot of 
film in the land of the Aztecs, the author of The 
Jungle was planning the Sinclair Foundation, and 
a purpose was conceived for Eisenstein's Mexican 
epic of which its creator was not informed until 
later, after the film had been virtually stolen from 

The third and most important point in connec- 
tion with this scenario, which follows from the first 
two is that Eisenstein shot a vast amount of mater- 
ial, entirely apart from the four romanticized 
episodes, which the scenario does not even suggest. 
This additional imagery, amounting to dozens of 
reels of film, includes the material on the festival of 
the Virgin of Guadaloupe, the ceremonies of the 
Day of Death, scenes of the tyranny and power 
wielded by the Church in Mexico, scenes satirizing 
bureaucrats, politicians, and leading figures of the 
Mexican government, scenes of fantasy, extrava- 
ganza and Mexican art, and many shots which can 
only be described as representing the "connective 
tissue" of the picture for use in completing the 
montage of the whole. 

In cutting Thunder Over Mexico, the Sinclair- 
Lesser agents selected one of the four major episodes, 

— the Maguey story, and attempted to sell it to 
the public as representing the entire epic of Mexico 
shot by Eisenstein and as having been cut "in accord 
with Eisenstein's ideas". Accordingly, to the extent 
that he abided literally by the plot of the Maguey 
story (the only episode, by the way, which con- 
tains anything resembling a plot, the rest being of 
a purer cinematic and documentary character) , 
Sinclair was able to say, with the same kind and 
degree of "technical truthfulness" that one would 
expect of an unscrupulous lawyer, that he had 
"followed" the scenario. That, in "following" the 
scenario, he had removed from its position in the 
symphonic pattern an entire episode; that he had 
stripped the isolated episode of its poetic and musical 
overtones, its revolutionary implications, and its 
profound reflections on the life of central Mexico; 
and that the result of Lesser's cutting was neither 
in harmony with the spirit in which the scenario 
is written nor in accord with any of Eisenstein's 
intensely personal manifestations of style, nor with 
his basic principles of cinema technique, — these 
were trivialities that did not deter Sinclair from 
publicly glorifying his crime. 

A word as to the style and method of the scen- 
ario. Perhaps the first thing that strikes the reader 
is the complete absence of technical directions or 
specifications of any kind. The language is that of 
poetic prose, and it is never intruded upon by prac- 
tical suggestions of camera, focus or montage. The 
method is that of projecting an image on the printed 
page without defining its final cinematic form. 
The scenario thus becomes, in a sense, a kind of 
storehouse of images from which the director selects 
what he wants and fashions it according to his crea- 
tive decision at the moment. How plain it is, there- 
fore, that none but Eisenstein could edit the mater- 
ial! How obvious that neither Sinclair nor his hired 
hack, Lesser, could have edited the film "in accord 
with Eisenstein's ideas" since there were no tech- 
nical directions to guide him! 

Yet the identity between the verbal imagery of 
the written page and the filmic realization is prac- 
tically complete. For example, in the Maguey episode, 
the line: "Feudal estates, former monasteries of the 
Spanish conquerors, stand like unapproachable 
fortresses amidst the vast seas of cactus groves", 
has its exact counterpart in several of the shots 
taken in the neighborhood of the fortress around 
which the action is built, the Hacienda Tetlapayac, 
and the overtone of "unapproachable fortress" in a 
"vast sea" is most eloquently projected in the ton- 
ality of Tisse's photography, in the perspectives of 
the individual images, and in the montage of the 
whole cumulative composition to produce the ef- 
fect of arid grandeur. 

Similarly, in the same episode, the following 
image, caught by Eisenstein from several acute 
angles, casts its tragic overtonal spell: "The hissing 
bullets pierce the succulent leaves of the maguey 
plant and the juice, like tears, trickles down its 
trunk." Even the generalized assertion: "Aggressive- 
ness, virility, arrogance and austerity characterize 
this novel", was photographed, and was to have 
been mounted in the original film (which, of course, 

it was not in the Sinclair-Lesser distortion) in a dy- 
namic group of static elements: Maguey -)- Cloud 
-\- Vast Perspective (the Chihuahua plain) -\- 
Fortress -f- Endless and Desolate Desert. 

In the Prologue also, the sum-image, "the land of 
Yucatan", materializing on the screen (original 
film) out of a dynamic and rhythmic progression 
of such image-elements as "heathen temples", "holy 
cities", "majestic pyramids", "masks of the gods", 
"phantoms of the past", "ruins", etc., culminates 
concretely, like grey tones thickening with increas- 
ing density into black, in a synthetic visualization 
of the "realms of death, where the past still prevails 
over the present". 

The scenario, however, fails to establish what was 
actually intended as the major theme of the Mexi- 
can epic: i.e., the assertive eternality of the domi- 
nant Indian race-types from ancient Yucatan to 
modern Mexico. The fulfillment, the final triumph, 
of these race-types was to be depicted by Eisenstein 
in a prophetic anticipation — in imagery both ma- 
jestic and fantastic — of the revolutionary urge 
dormant in the exploited descendants of those an- 
cient races. The material for the conclusion (the 
epilogue) was photographed. But obviously, since 
the land had been taken from the Indians by the 
Spaniards and withheld from them by the subse- 
quent governments of Mexico, Eisenstein was again 
embarrassed to mention this theme of European 
imperialism in a scenario which had to be officially 
sanctioned. Consequently, neither the epilogue nor 
the scenario as a whole in any way reveals the main 
objective of the picture, which is — the dialectic in- 
terpretation of Mexico. Indeed, the scenario as it 
stands here, being mostly descriptive and narrative, 
shows no such grand conceptual design. 

The epilogue in itself is rather insipid "propitia- 
tory palaver" which Eisenstein had no intention of 
using in the final film, but which Sinclair em- 
phasized in his mutilated version. Sinclair was thus 
able to say that he was "faithful" to the epilogue, 
as indeed he was, — but to an epilogue which was 
never intended for the picture! 

In conclusion, it is only necessary to quote Eisen- 
stein himself on this "official" scenario. When 
consulted two years ago about its publication, he 
warned, quite good-humoredly, that, because of the 
Mexican censorship and due to his growing sus- 
picions of Sinclair, he had been forced to write the 
scenario "in the apple-sauciest way". He doubted 
that admirers of his previous works would be im- 
pressed, except unfavorably, by the document. We 
are offering the scenario for "Que Viva Mexi- 
co!", despite its author's own critical strictures, 
because, whatever its enforced failings as a dialec- 
tic interpretation of that country, it does project, 
although imperfectly, a substantial portion of the 
basic framework of Eisenstein's finished film. 
Moreover, as the reader will discover, there is very 
little "apple sauce" and a great deal of poetry in 
this unusual example of cinema-writing. It is hoped 
that this self-derogated work of the author will 
furnish a clue to the real magnitude of the rich and 
glorious vision of Eisenstein and Alexandroff. 





The story of this film is unusual. 

Four novels framed by prologue and epilogue, 
unified in conception and spirit, creating its entity. 

Different in content. 

Different in location. 

Different in landscape, people, customs. 

Opposite in rhythm and form, they create a vast 
and multicolored Film-Symphony about Mexico. 

Six Mexican folk-songs accompany these novels, 
■which themselves are but songs, legends, tales from 
different parts of Mexico brought together in one 
united cinema show. 


Time in the prologue is eternity. 

It might be today. 

It might as well be twenty years ago. 

Might be a thousand. 

For the dwellers of Yucatan, land of ruins and 
huge pyramids, have still conserved, in feature and 
forms, the character of their ancestors, the great 
race of the ancient Mayas. 

Stones — 

Gods — 

Men — 

Act in the prologue. 

In time remote . . . 

In the land of Yucatan, among heathen temples, 
holy cities and majestic pyramids. In the realms 
of death, where the past still prevails over the 
present, there the starting-point of our film is laid. 

As a symbol of recalling the past, as a farewell 
rite to the ancient Maya civilization, a weird fune- 
ral ceremony is held. 

In this ceremony idols of the heathen temples, 
masks of the gods, phantoms of the past, take part. 

In the corresponding grouping of the stone 
images, the masks, the bas-reliefs and the living 
people, the immobile act of the funeral is displayed. 

The people bear resemblance to the stone images, 
for those images represent the faces of their ances- 

The people seem turned to stone over the grave 
of the deceased in the same poses, the same expres- 
sions of face, as those portrayed on the ancient 
stone carvings. 

A variety of groups that seem turned to stone, 
and of monuments of antiquity — the component 
parts of the symbolic funerals — appear in a shift- 
ing procession on the screen. 

And only the quaint rhythm of the drums of the 
Yucatan music, and the high-pitched maya song, 
accompany this immobile procession. 

Thus ends the prologue — overture to the cine- 
matographic symphony, the meaning of which shall 
be revealed in the contents of the four following 
stories and of the Finale at the end of these. 


Tropical Tehuantepec. 

The Isthmus between Pacific and Atlantic oceans. 

Near the borders of Guatemala. 

Time is unknown in Tehuantepec. 

Time runs slowly under the dreamy weaving of 
palms and costumes, and customs do not change 
for years and years. 


1. Concepcion, an Indian girl. 

2. Abundio, her novio (future husband). 

3. His Mother. 

4. Tehuanas (Tehuantepec girls). 

5. Population of Tehuantepec in festivals, cere- 
monies and a popular wedding. 


The rising sun sends its irresistible call to life. 

Its all-pervading rays penetrate into the darkest 
of the tropical forest, and, with the sun and the 
sound of the gentle morning breeze of the ocean, 
the denizens of the Mexican tropical land awaken. 

Flocks of screaming parrots flutter noisily among 
the palm branches waking up the monkeys, who 
close their ears in anger and run down to the river. 

On their course these startle the solemn pelicans 
off the shore sands, and then they plunge, grumbling 
loudly, into the waves to fish floating bananas and 

From the deep of the river crabs, turtles, and 
sluggish alligators crawl up to the shore to bask 
their century-old bodies in the sun. 

Indian maids are bathing in the river; they lie 
on the sandy, shallow bottom of the river and sing 
a song. 

Slow as an old-time waltz, sensual as a Danzon, 
and happy as their own dreams — an Oaxaca song 
— the "Sandunga." 

Another group of girls in tanned little boats 
glide slowly by in the bright surface of the river, 
indulging in the luxury of idleness and the warm 
kisses of the sunbeams. 

A cascade of jet black shining hair drying in the 
sun denotes a third group of girls seated by the 
trunks of the nearby palm-trees. 

Proud and majestic, like a fairy queen in her 
natural maiden beauty, is among them a girl by 
the name of Concepcion. 

Under the caress of the waves of her hair she lets 
herself float into dream-land. A wreath of flowers 
crowns her brow. While listening to the song of 
her chums she closes her eyes, and in her imagina- 
tion gold takes the place of flowers. 

A necklace of golden coins, adorned with rough 
pearls strung on threads of golden chains, is glim- 
mering on her breast. 

A golden necklace — this is the object of all her 

dreams; this is the dream of all the Tehuanas — the 
Tehuantepec girls. 

From tender childhood a girl begins to work, 
saving painstakingly every nickel, every penny, in 
order that at the age of sixteen or eighteen she may 
have the golden necklace. 

The necklace — that is a fortune, it is an estate. 
The necklace is the future dowry. 

And the bigger, the more expensive it is, the 
haooier future, marital life. 

That is why the dreams of Concepion are so 
oassionate; that is why the visions floating before 
her mind's eye are so colorful. 

Handsome youths alternate with the necklace 

Youthful beauty blossoms on the screen. . . . 

The dreamy song of the girls wafts over the 
dreamy voluptuous tropics. . . . 

Oh, ... we have let ourselves drift so deeply 
into dreams, that we have not even noticed how the 
girls got to work, when they went over to the 
market place, exhibited their wares: oranges, ba- 
nanas, pineapples, flowers, pots, fish, and other mer- 
chandise for sale. The Tehuantepec market-place 
is an interesting sight. If you will look in this 
corner you may think yourself in India. 

On turning to the other side you will find it like 
Bagdad because of the big earthenware pots sur- 
rounding its youthful vendor. 

In still another place it looks like the South Seas. 
However, there are also spots that look like nothing 
else on earth, for four-eyed fishes are sold only in 

As soon as a girl sells some trifle, as soon as she 
receives the few cents in payment, she immediately 
begins to think of the necklace, begins to count the 
gold coins she still has to earn. 

Thus, coin by coin, the necklace is built, en- 
hanced, but, alas, it is still short one — the bigger, 
central coin. 

So figured Concepcion, she needed only one, just 
one more coin to win the right to happiness! 

Business, however, is slow in the quiet, lazy 
tropical market. 

Concepcion goes on dreaming about this last coin, 
while the song, the song that stands for happiness 
with Tehuantepec girls, continues to float in the 

But at last the bananas are sold, those bananas 
that were to bring in the money for completion of 
the necklace. And as the customer pays Concep- 
cion, she says: "May your necklace bring you 

The happy Concepcion tightly grips the long 
wished-for coin in her hand. 

The most beautiful that the tropical forest can 
yield, flowers, banana-trees, palm-leaves, fruits, 
adorn the walls of the dance hall. 

The most elegantly dressed of the Tehuana girls 
are seen there. The dance hall is the only place 
where a youth and a girl may meet, where they can 
confide to each other the secret of the heart! 

In the brilliance of her best dress and the high 
pitch of her feelings she casts aside the silk veil 
of her shawl to draw the eyes of all youths and 

maidens and keep them spellbound upon the splen- 
dor of her beauty and her new golden necklace. 

After the dance, when Concepcion withdraws 
with her beloved to a retired corner, Abundio pro- 
poses to her. And now: 


Behold Concepcion trembling, pensive, frightened. 
And here the author speaks! 

— Why Concepcion, isn't this what you came 
for? Is it not what you expected? Is it not what 
you longed for? In reply to the voice of the author 
Concepcion smiles, nods her head in assent. But! 

The Bridegroom's Mother is a practical woman! 

She sends her women to the bride's house to take 
stock of the dowry and make sure that all is right. 

That there are enough petticoats in the trous- 
seau. That the gold coins in the necklace are plenti- 

Experienced old women, nearly centenarians who 
had taken hands in the marriages of three genera- 
tions come to Concepcion's home. They examine 
all her outfit, feel the velvet, smell the silk, count 
the gold coins in the necklace and subject them to 
the tooth-test to make sure of the purity of the 

Stirred to the depths of her soul Concepcion 
laughs with joy and happiness. The venerable wo- 
men then pronounce judgment: 

All is perfectly right! So, traditional rites begin. 

Concepcion's friends bring her presents: A cow 
dressed up in a masquerade costume; goats with 
bow ties around their necks; they are carrying on 
their shoulders many hens, turkeys, little pigs and 
other gifts and in a quaint procession are advanc- 
ing toward the bride's home. 

In compliance with a tradition centuries old they 
bring her pure bee's-wax candles fantastically deco- 

Middle-aged women are busy in the elaborated 
preparation of typical and delicious dishes for the 
indispensable, peculiar banquet. 

Entire Tehuantepec is stirred up by this event. 

All the girls are wearing the fairy regional cos- 
tumes and wait for the newly-wedded near the 

Under the sound of the wedding bells the pro- 
cession carrying palm branches goes to the house 
of the young couple. 

And when left by themselves, Concepcion coyly 
allows her husband to take off her pride — the golden 

Grandma runs out on the balcony and loudly 
announces to the expectant Tehuantepecans that 
Concepcion — the girl, has become Concepcion the 

Sky rockets soar up high; fire-works crack, all 
the young girl friends of Concepcion turn their 
fairy head-gear inside out, like a flock of bih-birds 
all spreading out their wings, and they dance and 

The Sandunga that always sings in the air when- 
ever happiness comes — either in dreams or in reality. 

While throughout the tropical forest under the 
peaceful fragrance of the palm-trees life pursues 
its habitual daily course. 

The old apes rock their offspring to sleep. 

Parrots teach their young to scream. 

Pelicans bring fish for their little ones in their 

Time passes, new flowers bloom. Concepcion the 
woman is now a happy mother. 

Thus the story of Concepcion comes to an end, 
with the portraying of happy, contented parents 
and a laughing boy. 

With the sun setting beyond the Ocean. 

With the peaceful lyric-song of dreaming beauti- 
ful girls. 

Ends the romance of tropical Tehuantepec. 

The action of this story develops through the 
endless fields of maguey in the "Llanos de Apam" 
and the ancient Hacienda de Tetlapayac, State of 
Hidalgo. "Llanos de Apam" are the foremost 
" pulque" -producing section of Mexico. 

Time of the action, beginning of this Centura 
under the social conditions of Porfirio Diaz' dic- 

1. Sebastian, peon indio 

2. Maria, his bride 

3. Joaquin, her father 

4. Ana, her mother 

5. The Hacendado 

6. Sara, his daughter 

7. Don Julio, her cousin 

8. Don Nicolas, the administrator 

9. Melesio, his mozo 

10. Sefior Balderas, a guest 

11. Felix 

12. Luciano — peons, friends of Sebastian 

13. Valerio 

14. Charros, mozos, guests and peons 

The Maguey 

Aggressiveness, virility, arrogance and austerity 
characterize this novel. 

As the North Pole differs from, the Equator, so 
unlike to dreamy Tehuantepec are the famous 
"Llanos de Apam." 

So different their people, customs, ways and mode 
of living. 

At the foot of the high volcanoes, at an altitude 
of ten thousand feet, on this desert land grows the 
big cactus plant — the Maguey. 

With their mouths they suck the juice of this 
cactus plant to make the Indian drink known as 

White, like milk — a gift of the gods, according 
to legend and belief, this strongest intoxicator 
dorwns sorrows, inflames passions and makes pis- 
tols fly out of their holsters. 

Feudal estates, former monasteries of the Spanish 
conquerors, stand like unapproachable fortresses 
amidst the vast seas of cactus groves. 

Long before dawn, long before the snowy peaks 
of the volcanoes are Jit up by the first rays of the 
sun, over the high walls of the massive farm- 
house come the sad, slow tunes of a song. 

"El Alabado" the peons call this song. 

They sing it every morning before they get to 

It is a hymn in which they pray to the Holy 
Virgin to help them on the newly dawning day. 
When the high snowy peaks of the mountains be- 
gin to glitter under the rising sun the gates of the 
fortress-like farm-house are opened and, ending 
their song, the peons tightly wrapped in their se- 
rapes and holding their big sombreros in their 
hands, pour out into the cactus fields to suck in the 
juice of the maguey with long, especially fitted 

On the screen you shall see the astonishingly orig- 
inal process of pulque production — which originated 
hundreds of years ago and has not changed up to 
the epoch of this story. 

Later, when the fog has cleared away, when the 
sun has warmed the earth, the servants of the land- 
lord's household get up and begin preparations for 
the evening, for on this day the anual feast of the 
Hacienda is to be celebrated. 

The "charros" put on their best costumes in 
honor of the guests and they exhibit boastfully their 
remarkable horses. 

Meantime, in the maguey field, where the peon 
Sebastian is working, a meeting takes place. Maria's 
parents bring their daughter to hand her over to 
her fiancee. 

According to tradition, Sebastian will have to 
take his bride to the owner of the Hacienda as 

But the "charros" who are guarding the land- 
lord's house won't let Sebastian in, so he has to 
remain in the front yard. 

On the terrace the landlord, in the company of 
a group of his nearest friends, are having drinks — 
and their spirits are rising. 

The "hacendado" receives Maria; he is a good- 
natured old man; he fumbles in his vest pocket for 
a few pesos as a gift to the bride. 

But at this moment an old-fashioned carriage 
drawn by six mules comes speeding along. 

The old man's daughter, Sara, has arrived. 

She has brought her cousin with her and has 
broken in upon the group on the veranda in a storm 
of laughter and gaiety. 

She flies into her father's arms. And all their 
friends drink a toast to her health. 

Maria is forgotten. 

Sebastian gets restless, while waiting in the front 

His sweetheart is slow in coming back to him 
and the explosive laughter on the veranda sounds 

The forgotten, frightened, inexperienced Maria is 
awaiting her luck. 

Bad luck appears in the shape of a coarse, drunken 
guest with a big mustache. 

Availing himself of the fact that the company 
is too absorbed with drinking and merry-making, 
he seizes Maria from behind a door and drags her 
into a remote room. 

One of the servants, a close friend of Sebastian, 
witnesses this scene and runs with all his might to 
the yard with his startling news. 

The Indian blood of Sebastian dictates his further 
course of action. 

He rushes up the veranda knocking the guards 

off their feet, he breaks in like a storm among the 
merry guests. . . . 

He demands Maria, his bride. 

A fight starts at once, but is brought just as 
quickly to an end, for slim are the chances of Se- 
bastian alone against all the assemblage. 

Sebastian is sent rolling down the stairs for his 
insolence and effrontery. 

A door opens and the intoxicated villain appears 
before the excited group. 

Distraught, weeping, Maria slips by stealthily be- 
hind his back. 

The tenseness of the situation is aggravated. But 
the "hacendado" is a good-natured old man. He 
does not want to mortify his guests, he does not 
want to spoil the feast. 

To distract the people he issues orders to start the 
music, the fireworks and the games. 

Maria is put under lock till next morning, pend- 
ing the hearing of the case. 

In the rattle of the music, the excitement of the 
games and intoxication of hilarity, the sad incident 
is forgotten. 

The brighter the fireworks blaze, the more vio- 
lent wrath rages within Sebastian's heart. 

Vengeance germinates in his mind. 

Vengeance begets conspiracy. 

Three of his comrades pledge themselves to help 
him get revenge. 

In an auspicious moment they direct the blazing 
sky-rockets into hay-stacks. 

The flames spread like wild fire. 

While the assemblage is panic-stricken, Sebastian 
and his associates provide themselves with arms and 
cartridges out of the landlord's supplies and make 
an attempt to release Maria from confinement. 

But the guards fire back and the conspirators 
are forced to flee. 

Under cover of night the fugitives evade per- 

Morning overtakes them in a forest on the slope 
of a mountain. 

Vending their way towards the mountain pass 
across the ridges, they plod laboriously through the 
thickest of the fairy-woods. The charros, however, 
on their fine horses, accompanied by the indomitable 
Sara and her cousin, make the pass first and inter- 
cept the fugitives. 

Cross-firing breaks out in the tangle of the nopal- 

Sara, fascinated by the shooting, incessantly 
makes attempts to rush forward and her cousin has 
to keep her back at a distance from the whizzing 
bullets by sheer force. 

Sara kills one of the peons and pays with her 
life for her daring. 

A bullet finds its way to her heart through the 
watch she is so fond of. The mechanism of the 
broken watch trembles under the shots and slowly 
stops its movement. 

Sara's cousin puts her body across his saddle and 
carries her away from the field of battle. 

The shooting breaks out anew with increased 

The fugitives are retreating into the maguey 

In the stronghold of a huge cactus, three of them 
seek refuge. 

The hissing bullets pierce the succulent leaves 
of the maguey plant and the juice, like tears, trickles 
down its trunk. 

The cartridges are exhausted. 

The peons make an attempt to flee. 

The agile charros fling their lazos around the 
fugitives and hold them captives. 

All torn, tottering Sebastian and two of his sur- 
viving friends are brought in upon the scene of 
Sara's funeral. 

Eye for an eye . . . they pay with their lives 
for their daring. 

Among the magueys, where Sebastian had worked 
and loved, he findsi his tragic end. . . . 

Beyond the great snow-white summits of the 
volcanoes the sun is sinking. The day is dying. 

The large gates of the estate are closing. 

Maria is set at liberty and goes looking for the 
body of Sebastian amidst the maguey plants. 

Her appearance startles the buzzards and they 
fly away. 

While over the high walls of the estate float the 
sounds of wailing. 

A mournful, drawn-out wailing — the Indian 
farewell to the setting sun. 

Maria finds the remains of her beloved, of him 
who was to become her husband, who had raised 
his arm in her defense . . . she sobs convulsively 
over his dead body. 

Beyond the tall walls of the Hacienda the peons 
are singing their vesper song just as plaintive, as 
mournful, as their morning Alabado. 


Time of the action — same as "Maguey" — that is 
— prior to the Revolution of 1910. 

Action includes scenery of all the most beautiful 
spots of Spanish colonial style and influence in Art, 
buildings and people in Mexico. 

(Mexico City, Xochimilco, Merida, Taxco, Vuebla, 
Cholula, etc.) 

The atmosphere of this part is of pure Spanish 


1. Baronita, picador and first lover 

2. The Matador (played by champion matador 
David Liceaga) 

3. Senora Calderon, one of the queens at the bull- 

4. Sefior Calderon, her husband 

5. Hundreds of ritual dancers, "danzantes" in 
front of the Basilica de Guadalupe. 

6. Crowds of pilgrims and penitents 

Crowds enjoying the bull-fight and the float- 
ing gardens of the Mexican Venice — Xoch- 

The Fiesta 

Weirdness, Romance and Glamour constitute the 
make-up of the third novel. 

Like the Spanish colonial barroco — works the 
stone into fanciful lace — work on the wire-ribbon 
of columns and church-altars. Thus the complex 
designs, the elaborate composition of this episode. 



"Youthful beauty 
blossoms on the 
screen" — P. 6 

(Below) — "The dwellers of Yucatan, land of 
rums and huge pyramids, have still conserved, in 
feature and forms, the character of their ancestors, 
the great race of the ancient Mayas." — P. 5 


'Maria is forgotten." — P. 7 

("Death comes along 
dancing." — P. 13 

All the beauty that the Spaniards have brought 
with them into Mexican life appears in this part 
of the picture. 

Spanish Architecture, costumes, bull-fights, ro- 
mantic love, southern jealousy, treachery, facility 
at drawing the gun, manifest themselves in this 

In old pre-revolutionary Mexico the annual holi- 
day in worship of the holy Virgin of Guadalupe is 
taking place. 

Hence the abundance of merry-go-rounds, shows, 
flowers, the multitudes of people. Pilgrims from 
all parts of the country are coming to the feast. 

Dancers of ritual dances are getting their fantas- 
tic costumes and masks ready. 

The bishops and archbishops are donning their gor- 
geous feature robes. 

The girls who are destined to appear as queens of 
the bull-fights are putting on their expensive combs 
and mantillas in a tremor of vanity. 

And finally the heroes of this tale, the famous 
matadors, are getting dressed for the performance on 
the veranda of a Spanish patio, amid the tinkling of 
guitars and the sound of militant songs of the ring. 

The best of the matadors is enacted by David 
Liceaga, the most renowned matador of Mexico and 
"champion" of the "golden ear." 

In front of a pier-glass, swelling with the self- 
consciousness of their importance and grandeur, the 
matadors are putting on their gold and silk em- 
broidered costumes. 

More than the others, wriggles in front of the 
mirror, (the most concerned about his personal ap- 
pearance) the care-free picador, the lazy Don Juan 

He is mindful of every detail, for an encounter 
more hazardous than the bull fight awaits him. 

He has a date with another man's wife! Having 
dressed, the matadors drive to the chapel of the 
Holy Virgin, the patron of their dangerous art. 

Having knelt before her altar, whispered to her 
his prayer, and begged her benediction, the best of 
the great matadors drive over to the quiet home of 
his mother to bid her — 

Good Bye! 

May be for the last time — 

And on the plaza a multitude of some sixty- 
thousand people, amid hand-clapping, shouts its im- 
patience. The orchestra in gayful tunes begins to 
play the opening official march and the matadors 
make their appearance in the arena. 

During the parade the picador Baronita appears in 
full splendor, mounted on his white horse, and 
throws a stealthy glance in the direction where the 
queens are seated. 

The belles of the city in expensive lace under the 
refreshing breeze of fans, and open coquetry, are 
filling the "Royal" box seats. 

Baronita manages to locate the queen of his in- 
flamed heart and give her his "killing" glance. 

And as in the traditional "Carmen" the eyes of 
the matadors meet the dark eyes of the beautiful 
queens and as a tradition dictates, this glance kindles 
the flame of valor in the matadors* eyes. 

The sixty thousand attendants release an Ah! of 
wonder the moment the bull runs out into the ring. 
The very famous David Liceaga displays all the 
beauty and elegance of the art of the matador. 

Full of grace and valor he dances his "dance" on 
the margin of death and triumph. 

He does not stir from his place even when the 
bull's horns come within a hair's breadth of his 
body; he does not tremble, but smiles serene, and to 
top it all he pets the sharp horns of the animal and 
this provokes an endless savage outburst of delight 
from the crowd. 

But the bull, enraged by the teasing of Liceaga 
knocks down the horse of the infatuated Baronita. 

And he is forced disgracefully to jump the en- 
closure under the roars of derisive laughter from 
the crowd. 

Notwithstanding all this, his love remains true 
to him, — she gives him the high sign of the feasi- 
bility of their rendezvous. 

In the meantime, in the town square, fairs and 
market-places, a crowd of many thousands are con- 
templating the ritual ceremonial dances of Indians 
dressed up in gilded brocade, ostrich feathers and 
huge masks. 

Under the peals of the ancient Spanish church 
bells, under the sound of music and the rolling of 
beating drums, the thunder of exploding sky rock- 
ets, the feast flourishes. Under the roar of the 
exalted crowd, at the other place, the killed bull is 
taken away from the grounds. 

A maelstrom of hats and unabating ovations ac- 
company the triumphant exit of the valiant mata- 

Baronita has now met his "queen." Wrapped up 
in one cloak, the pair of lovers make their way 
through the narrow Spanish alleys to the landing of 
the boats adorned with flowers. 

Their boat sails by the floating gardens along the 
dreamland canals of Xochimilco, the so-called Ven- 
etia of Mexico. 

In the shade of an awning under the sound of 
guitars and marimbas the pair of lovers will forget 
their troubles. 

But trouble does not forget them. 

The wife catches sight of her husband; the pair 
hide behind the curtain and a swift change of their 
course saves them from a tragic look. 

The husband is furious, he is raving, because he 
can find no trace of his wife. A mad pursuit among 
the moving maze of flower-covered floating temples 
of love .... 

The boat of the amorous pair passes under his 
very nose and disappears among hundreds of other 
festively adorned boats. 

In a retired nook of a remote canal the "Ship of 
Love" lands. Baronita conducts his forbidden love 
to the summit of a mountain, to a big stone cruci- 
fix, where they watch the sunset and exchange 

In their moment of utmost bliss they are sur- 
prised by the husband. He draws his Spanish fancy- 
made pistol. He is ready to discharge it. And by 
pure miracle Baronita escapes the avenging hand . . . 

The final song of the great feast ends the day. 

Happy, romantic, is the finab of the story about 


this ancient and beautiful Spanish holiday. 

The background of this story is the tumultuos 
canvas of uninterrupted -movements of armies, 
battles and military trains which followed the revo- 
lution of 1910 until peace and the new order of 
modern Mexico were established. 

Deserts, woods, mountains and the Pacific Coast 
at Acapulco, and Cuautla, Morelos, are the land- 
scapes of this story. 


1. Pancha, the woman who follows the soldier — 
the Soldadera. 

2. Juan, Pancha's soldier. 

3. The sentinel, Pancha's second soldier. 

4. Pancha's child. 

5. The Army in march and fight. 

6. Hundreds of soldaderas, wives of the soldiers, 
following the armies. 


Yells, shouts, general havoc seems to reign in the 
small Mexican village. 

At first one gets bewildered, one cannot under- 
stand what is going on — women are catching hens, 
pigs, turkeys; women are hastily seizing tortillas and 
chile in the houses. 

Women wrangling, fighting, shouting at each 
other .... 

What is up? 

These are soldiers' wives, "soldaderas," forerun- 
ners of the army, who have invaded the village. 

Those are the "soldaderas" getting provisions to 
feed their weary husbands. 

One of them is Pancha; a machine-gun ribbon 
hangs across her shoulder, a big sack containing 
household utensils weighs heavily on her back .... 

Having caught a chicken and voiced her snappish 
retort to the protests of its owner, she finds a con- 
venient place for the day quarters. 

The soldaderas are breaking camp by the bridge 
on the bank of the river, they are getting their 
brimstones — metates — out of their sacks, are husk- 
ing corn, kindling fires, and the clapping of their 
palms, patting tortillas, into shape, seem to an- 
nounce peace. 

A little girl is crying and to console her, the 
mother, for lack of candy, gves her a cartridge. 

The child sucks at the dum-dum bullet and re- 
joices over the glistening toy. 

The weary army enters the village and the soldiers 
in ravenous anticipation inhale the smoke of the 

Clarions sound the call to "rest." 

Artillery soldiers release the donkeys and mules 
from the dust-covered machine-gun carriages; the 
women are looking for their men. 

Pancha finds her soldier, Juan. 

She treats him to a roast chicken and hot tor- 

Supper over, Juan rests his head in Pancha's lap 
and hums the tune the guitars are playing. 

"Adelita" is the name of the song and this song 
is the leitmotif of the "Soldadera." 

When overcome by exhaustion he falls asleep and 
bis stentorian snoring joins in the general snoring 
chorus of sleeping soldiers. 

Pancha washes his shirt — and cleans his gun. 

At dawn, while the echo of the desert still rever- 
berates with the soldiers' snoring, Pancha places 
five or six cartridges in Juan's gun and puts the 
gun by his side. 

She packs her household belongings in her big 
sack and lifting it to her back she joins the crowd 
of women setting out on their endless pilgrimage. 

Faint under their heavy loads, trying to calm the 
crying children, munching the tortillas left over 
from breakfast, the crowd of women runs along the 
dusty, deserted road. 

Suddenly the loud voice of the author calls to 

— Say, "Soldadera." .... 

Pancha stops, turns her head toward the camera 
first, she just stares; then, pointing her finger to 
her breast, she inquires silently: "Did he call her?" 
The Voice, again: 

"Where art thou going, woman?" 

She turns pensive, smiles enigmatically, shrugs her 
shoulders, as if ignorant of what to answer, parts 
her hands in the broad gesture women are apt to 
make when saying: 

— "Who knows?" (Quien sabe . . .?) 

She is borne onwards by the strong current of 
women and gets lost in the big moving mass of 
humanity and in the dust that veils everything from 
the human eye. 

Machine-guns are roaring. 

The clatter of cavalry is heard. 

A battle is raging. 

Juan is fighting like all the rest of the soldiers. 

He discharges his gun. 

Shouts . . . "ora . . . arriba . . . Adelante" . . . 

Rushes into attack amidst bursting shells. 

Under the cars of a freight train the "soldadera" 
are praying for their fighting men. 

They have suspended their "Santos" — the holy 
images of their dearest devotion — from the car wheel 
and placed their little votive lamps on the springs 
of the car axle. 

The machine guns are silent. 

The shooting abates. 

The soldiers' shouts are no longer heard. 

The soldaderas go to the head of the tran, to the 
engine, and hence they look in direction of the end- 
ing battle. 

The soldaderas rush up to meet them, scrutinize 
their faces. 

Question . . . ! "Have you seen mine?" 

The excited Pancha is looking for Juan. 

Here they bring him wounded. 

Pancha runs up to him. 

Uncovers his face . . . 

No, that is not he . . . 

The soldaderas bandage up wounds, treat them to 
the best of their knowledge. Apply tortillas to the 
wounds and fasten them with willow fibres. 

Juan is safe and sound but worn out, and he 
must get into the car of his troop for the officers 
and engines are blowing the whistles for departure. 


Having seen him board the train, Pancha gets on 
the engine platform. 

The angry voice of the sentinel calls to her. 

"What have you there under your shawl?" 

And lifting her rebozo, Pancha answers quietly: 

"Who knows, senor, it may be a girl or it may be 
a boy ... " 

The troops start off noisily. In the packed cars 
the soldiers are singing "Adelita"! And on the 
roofs, the soldaderas with their kitchens and chil- 
dren are squatted like crows. 

They have kindled bonfires on the iron roofs and 
the patting of palms making tortillas seems to com- 
pete with the rattling of the car wheels. 

The military train vanishes into the dark of 

At daybreak the soot-covered stoker leaps from 
car to car of the train in motion — jumps among the 
wandering women and children. 

On one of the cars he drops flat on his belly and 
shouts through the open door . . . 

In answer to his call Juan, aided by his comrades, 
climbs up to the roof. 

The rattling of the train drowns the words of 
the message the stoker has brought to Juan. 

They run fast to the engine, frightening the 
sprawled women and on reaching their destination, 
they climb to the front platform. 

Under the clothes hung out in the lanterns to dry, 
under soldiers' underwear waved by the wind, near 
the blazing bonfire, Pancha is sitting with her new- 
born baby. 

And the same cross-guard seated close by, near a 
machine-gun, asks Pancha: 

" — It is a girl or a boy?" 

Among the mountains in the clouds, puffing with 
effort on the steep stretches of the road, the military 
train is advancing. 

Another battle . . . ! 

Again the racket of machine-guns . . . 

Again the soldaderas are awaiting the returning 
wounded soldiers . . . 

This time Juan does not come back. 

And when the fight is over amidst its smoking 
ruins Pancha finds the body of her husband . . . 

She gathers a pile of rocks, makes him a primitive 
tombstone, weaves him a cross of reeds . . . 

She takes his gun, his carriage belt, his baby, and 
follows the slowly advancing, tired army. 

Her legs can hardly support her body, heavy un- 
der the burden of grief and weariness. 

And then the same cross soldier walks up to her 
and takes the baby from her. 

Pancha leans on the strong arm of her new hus- 
band in order not to fall and not to lag behind the 

"Adelita" is the tune the tired bands are playing, 
falsely and out of rhythm. 

The army has prepared for an attack, but the 
people from the city come up and explain. 

The civil war is over. 

Revolution has triumphed. 

There is no need now of Mexicans fighting Mexi- 

The brass-band discovers a new source of strength 

that enables it to play "Adelita" stoutly, solemnly 
and triumphantly. 

Like peals of thunder roll the triumphant shouts 
above the heads of the soldiers. 

The armies are fraternizing. 

One might decipher on the banner — the last word 
of its device. 

Towards Revolution. 

Towards a New Life . . . says the voice of the 

Toward a New Life! . . . 


Time and location — modern Mexico. 

Mexico of today on the ways of peace, prosperity 
and civilization. 

Factories, railroads, harbors with enormous boats; 
Chapultepac, castle, parks, museums, schools, sport- 

The people of to-day. 

Leaders of the country. 




Builders of new Mexico. 


Children — the future people of future Mexico. 

The work of factories. 

The hissing of aero-propellers. 

The whistles of work-plants. 

Modern . . . Civilized . . . Industrial Mexico ap- 
pears on the screen. 

Highways, dams, railways . . . 

The bustle of a big city. 

New machinery. 

New houses. 

New people. 







Agriculture experts. 

And the Nation's leaders, the President, generals, 
secretaries of State Departments. Life, activity, 
work of new, energetic people . . . but if you look 
closer, you will behold in the land and in the cities 
the same faces. — 

Faces that bear close resemblance to those who 
held funeral of antiquity in Yucatan, those who 
danced in Tehuantepec; those who sang the Alabado 
behind the tall walls, those who danced in queer 
costumes around the temples, those who fought and 
died in the battles of revolution. 

The same faces — 

but different people. 

A different country, 

A new, civilized nation. 

But, what is that? 

After the bustle of factory machines. 

After the parading of modern troops. 

After the President's speeches and the generals' 
commands — 

Death comes along dancing! 

Continued on page 52 


MANIFESTO on "Que Viva Mexico" 

"The notion of anyone doing the montage of Eisenstein's film 
except Eisenstein himself is outrageous to all the canons of 
Art. No economic situation justifies such an aesthetic crime." 

— Waldo Frank 
"Of the grandeur of the undamaged original (The Last 
Supper) we can only guess . . . dreadful restorations were 
made by heavy-handed meddlers; some imbecile Dominican 
monks cut a door through the lower central part; Napoleon's 
dragoons stabled their horses in the refectory and threw 
their boots at Judas Iscariot; more restorations and more 
disfigurements. . . ." — Thomas Craven. Men of Art 


Last year, a great deal of space was devoted to a film entitled 
Que Viva Mexico!, which S. M. Eisenstein, the renowned 
Soviet director was making at that time. There were two 
articles on the film, one of them an authorized interpreta- 
tion by Augustin Aragon Leiva, Eisenstein's special assistant 
throughout the production. In addition, there were ten pages 
of still reproductions, which, to quote Laurence Stallings, 
gave a "foretaste" of the film. The editors of Experimental 
Cinema were more than merely enthusiastic about it: they 
had been given a copy of the scenario by Eisenstein himself 
and they were convinced that Que Viva Mexico! would mate- 
rialize, as no film had ever done, the highest principles of the 
cinema as a fine art. 

There is now being released on the world market a movie 
called Thunder Over Mexico, which is what it is: a frag- 
mentary and entirely conventional version of Eisenstein's orig 1 
inal majestic conception. The story behind this commercialized 
version is without doubt the greatest tragedy in the history 
of films and one of the saddest in the history of art. It 
represents the latest instance of a film director, in this case 
a genius of the first rank, forfeiting a masterpiece in a hope- 
less struggle against sordid commercial interests. 

We decry this illegitimate version of "QUE VIVA MEXI- 
CO!" and denounce it for what it is, — a mere vulgarization 
of Eisenstein's original conception put forth in his name in 
order to capitalize on his renown as a creative artist. We de- 
nounce the cutting of "QUE VIVA MEXICO!" by profes- 
sional Hollywood cutters as an unmitigated mockery of Eisen- 
stein's intention. We denounce "THUNDER OVER MEXI- 
CO" as a cheap debasement of "QUE VIVA MEXICO!" 

As all students of the cinema are aware, Eisenstein edits 
("mounts") his own films. Contrary to the methods generally 
employed by professional directors in Hollywood, Eisenstein 
gives final form to the film in the cutting-room. The very 
essence of his creative genius, and of his oft-quoted theory of 
the cinema, consists in the editing of the separate shots after 
all the scenes have been photographed. Virtually every film 
director of note has testified, time and again, to the revolu- 
tionary consequences of Eisenstein's montage technique on the 
modern cinema, and every student of the cinema knows how 
impossible it is for anyone except Eisenstein to edit his pictures. 

"THUNDER OVER MEXICO" has not been edited by 
Eisenstein and yet is being exploited into as his achievement. 
The editing of "THUNDER OVER MEXICO" is not Eisen- 
stein montage. 

Out of approximately 200,000 feet of film shot by Eisen- 
stein in Mexico, a picture of some 7,000 feet cut according to 
convential Hollywood standards, has been produced, — an 
emasculated fragment of Eisenstein's original scenario which 
provided for six interrelated episodes, in which were included 
a dramatic prologue depicting the life of ancient Yucatan and 
an epilogue foreshadowing the destinies of the Mexican peo- 
ple. What has happened! to this material? 

Eisenstein's original prologue, which was intended to trace 
the sources and primitive manifestations of Mexican culture, 
thus projecting the most vital cultural forms among the Az- 
tecs, Toltecs and the Mayans, has been converted into a 

Worse than this is the fate of Eisenstein's original epilogue, 
which was intended to establish the timeless continuity of types 
from ancient Yucatan to modern Mexico, and which was 
meant to anticipate the revolutionary urge dormant in the 
descendants of those ancient races. Under the guidance of 

Eisenstein's backers, who have never from the start shown 
a due consciousness of what the film is all about, the epilogue 
has now been converted into a cheerful ballyhoo about "a 
new Mexico," with definite fascist implications. 

The remaining mass of material, consisting of more than 
180,000 feet, is in danger of being sold piecemeal to com- 
mercial film concerns. 

Thus, Eisenstein's great vision of the Mexican ethos, which 
he had intended to present in the form of a "film symphony," 
has been destroyed. Of the original conception, as revealed 
in the scenario and in Eisenstein's correspondence with the 
editors of Experimental Cinema, nothing remains in the com- 
mercialized version except the photography, which no amount 
of mediocre cutting could destroy. As feared by Eisenstein's 
friends and admirers, the scenario, written in the form of a 
prose poem, merely confused the professional Hollywood cut- 
ters. The original meaning of the film has been perverted 
by reduction of the whole to a single unconnected romantic 
story which the backers of the picture are offering to please 
popular taste. The result is "Thunder Over Mexico": a 
"Best-Picture-of-the-Year," Hollywood special, but in the 
annals of true art, the saddest miscarriage on record of a high 
and glorious enterprise. 

For more than a year Eisenstein's friends and admirers in 
the United States have been appealing to his backers, repre- 
sented by Upton Sinclair, to save; the picture and to preserve 
it so that eventually Eisenstein might edit it. A campaign 
was even launched to raise $100,000 to. purchase the material 
for Eisenstein. Finally, a Committee for Eisenstein's Mexican 
Film was formed, consisting of the editors of Experimental 
Cinema and including Waldo Frank, Lincoln Kirstein, Augustin 
Aragon Leiva and J. M. Valdes-Rodriguez. All these efforts, 
however, were unsuccessful. It is now too late to stop the 
release of "Thunder Over Mexico." 

But there is one alternative left to those who wish to save 
the original negative of "QUE VIVA MEXICO!": the pres- 
sure of world-wide appeal to the conscience of the backers 
may induce them to realize the gravity of the situation and 
give the film to Eisenstein. 

The purpose of this manifesto, therefore, is two-fold: (1) 
to orient and forewarn public taste on the eve of the arrival 
of a much misrepresented product, "Thunder Over Mexico"; 
and (2) to incite public opinion to bring pressure to bear 
upon the backers in a last effort to save the complete negative, 
both cut and uncut, for Eisenstein. 

Lovers of film art! Students of Eisenstein! Friends of 
Mexico! Support this campaign to save the negative of "QUE 
VIVA MEXICO!". Do not be satisfied with any substitutes 
for Eisenstein's original vision! Make this campaign an un- 
forgettable precedent that will echo throughout film history, 
a warning to all future enemies of the cinema as a fine 
art! ! ! 

Send letters of protest and appeal to Upton Sinclair. 614 
North Arden Drive, Beverly Hills, California, and communi- 
cate immediately with the Committee for Eisenstein's Mexican 
Film, c/o Experimental Cinema, International Film Quarterly, 
1625 North Vine Street, Hollywood, California. 

Foreign Film Journals: Please copy! Immediate Propaganda 
essential! Film Societies: Duplicate this manifesto! Distribute 
to your members! 

Write for extra copies. 
Do not allow this cowardly assassination of Eisenstein's Mexi- 
can film! 

NOTE: The above text represents the manifesto issued by 
EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA in June, 1933, at Hollywood, 
California, in the campaign to save the negative of "QUE 
VIVA MEXICO!". This was the first document of its kind 
ever issued on behalf of a motion picture, and it is especially 
significant as indicating the character and purpose of the 
already historical struggle to save one of the world's most 
important films. The manifesto was the first public protest 
against the destruction of a cinema masterpiece and, accord- 
ingly, we have reprinted the entire document here. 


The Festival of the Virgin of Gua- 
daloupe: A few scenes of this material 
were transposed bodily from their origi- 
nal position in the film to the Maguey 
episode, where they were made to re- 
present a house party at the Hacienda 
Tetlapayac, in the Sinclair-Lesser dis- 
torted version of "Que Viva Mexico!" — 
P. 10 

"Full of grace and 
valor the matador 
dances his 'dance' on 
the margin of death 
and triumph-" — P. 1 1 

Sex appeal and good 
photographic tone but 
no organization of mass, 
space and line. Light un- 

From Blonde Venus di- 
rected by von Sternberg. 

Below, Josef von Stern- 
berg who claims "Holly- 
wood has nothing to 



"Oh Hollywood , my beloved Hollywood!" 

This rapturous exclamation falls from the lips 
of a small dumpy man with flowing sandy hair 
as he stands before his home on one of 
the hills that look down upon Hollywood's 
film factories. The little man lends a touch of the 
exotic and dramatic to his fervent declaration, for 
he wears a richly ornamented black velvet coat and 
his arms are outstretched as if offering a benediction. 

The man is Josef von Sternberg. The time: 1927, 
the year in which his Underworld, a gangster film, 
was breaking box office records. 

Underworld appeared at a psychological moment 
when people, wearied to a point of ennui by Holly- 
wood's innocuous celluloid, were turning their at- 
tention to news about the exploits and acquisitive 
technique of racketeers in the lower brackets. Ap- 
pealing to the violent bourgeois desire of getting 
something for nothing, but getting it at the point 
of a gun if necessary, Underworld became a hit. 
This motion picture glorified the gangster, Stern- 
berg's false fantasy, based on a Nick Carter concep- 
tion of social reality, gave the picture an effective if 
cheap brand of melodrama. His own irrational 
appraisal of the immediate acceptance of Un- 
derworld in a society in which art stagnates 
simultaneously with the economic and poli- 
tical disintegration of capitalism, led Sternberg 
to exaggerate grossly the importance of this 
picture and himself to film art. He began to 
regard himself as the artistic director in Hollywood. 
He implies that he is the messiah of film art in 
Hollywood. Hence, Hollywood should follow his 
methodology. His directorial colleagues he views 
with arrogance and disdain, although in both 
structure and content his work is just as slipshod 
and false as theirs. He continues to set himself up 
as an oracle of film opinion and from time to time 
issues statements on the cinema which should in- 
terest psychiatrists. He has thumbed his nose in pub- 
lic at Theodore Dreiser and Bernard Shaw whose 
social commentaries, although appreciated by many 
high school boys, would probably leave Sternberg dis- 
traught if he really tried to comprehend them. The 
backwardness of the Hollywood cinema and of Stern- 
berg, as its self-appointed spokesman and as a direc- 
tor, is exemplified in one of his statements which 
illustrates a penchant for putting fictitious above in- 
trinsic values in film practice: 

"Hollywood has absolutely nothing to learn in 
motion pictures from any European country, 
neither from Russia or Germany". 

This statement, like the outburst from his own 
hilltop, "Oh Hollywood, my beloved Hollywood", 
is pregnant with connotations at once amusing and 

JOSEF von 


pathetic, for to observant film practitioner and lay- 
man alike it is plain that both of these messianic - 
Sternbergian remarks could be uttered only by a 
director who lacks sensitivity, who has a low 
standard of esthetic evaluation and an unbalanced 
philosophy of life and cinema. 

But Sternberg can scarcely be called an astute 
spokesman, for his credo, "Hollywood has nothing 
to learn", if interpreted in the light of actual per- 
formance, can be said to mean that Hollywood's film 
makers, by virtue of their own incompetence and 
the "system" of production and the ideological dis- 
integration to which they submit, are endowed with 
such extraordinary talent for injecting mediocrity 
and stupidity into their celluloid strips that it is 
obvious Hollywood has nothing to learn about 
the application of these conspicuously atrocious in- 
gredients which shape the content and form of the 
bourgeois film. 

What more fitting example of Hollywood's disre- 
gard for the film as an art and as a force for social 
betterment could be had than the fact that the lone 
exhibit of the American motion picture industry at 
the Chicago World's Fair was none other than the 
living presence of the MGM lion? What the promo- 
ters of the "Hollywood" concession at the Fair did 
not get from our film entrepeneurs they supplied in 
the best Hollywood manner with such banal side- 
shows as "Virgins in Cellophane", "Adam and Eve 
in the Garden of Eden" and "Nudes of the Na- 
tions", with assurances from the obseqious barkers 
that "all the costume which each girl wears could be 
tucked into an envelope". Sternberg's Hollywood, 
which "has nothing to learn", offered a lion 
to the Exposition of a Century of Progress although 
the history of the motion picture in a social-his- 
torical-creative sense is replete with material for an 
exhibit of the first order. But to stage such an ex- 
hibit would necessarily be the job of outsiders, since 
the American motion picture industry is notorious for 
its lack of a social-historical-creative approach to the 
cinema.' " 

From the time Sternberg made Salvation Hunters 
down to the present day, he has persistently posed 
as an artist, an affectation which afflicts a considerable 
number of Hollywood's "leading" directors, among 
them such over-rated men as King Vidor, Frank 
Borzage, C. B. DeMille, Clarence Brown and others 
whose chief claim to film leadership is rooted in 
their talent for Kitsch. Their work and Sternberg's 
are marked by a very narrow range in the use of the 
film's structural forms — a range so limited and in- 
expressive that aside from variations of subject 
matter their productions may pass for the out- 
put of one and the same director. None of Holly- 
wood's directorial pretenders, however, has been as 
successful as Sternberg in transforming an affecta- 


(1) The editors of Experimental Cinema are establishing 
world-wide contacts for the organization of an Inter- 
national Film Exhibit to be shown in New York and 
throughout America. Film workers are kindly requested 
to communicate with the editors for information con- 
cerning arrangements for their exhibits. Likewise, all 
inventors, scientists and others who own any data 
of interest about the film. 


tion into a generally accepted myth about an art- 
istry which exists in none of his films. 


A film director is an artist in a complete sense 
when he employs his tools to present a dialectic 
treatment of nature and man, instead of picturing 
nature and man in a falsely romantic relation to 
each other; he seeks to develop new aspects of cine- 
matic design in time and linear patterns, and image 
relationships, with which to intensify artistically 
the deeply realistic content of his thematic material; 
he seeks new forms and methods not for their for- 
mal values alone but for their integration with an 
understanding of social phenomena, so that he may 
develop effective, and if possible, heroic image ideas. 
Judged by this standard, what is the position of 
Josef von Sternberg as a director? 

In Sternberg we have a director who concentrates 
on surface effects, who emphasizes the externals of 
film mechanics in a most inarticulate manner and 
represents his own delirious fancies as real life. 

This highly publicized director has been connected 
with motion pictures for almost twenty years. He 
served as camera man, film cutter and scenarist be- 
fore becoming a director. But what of his actual 

His productions show that experience as a camera 
man is no guarantee that this practitioner can use or 
direct the camera filmically; that having been a film 
cutter is no proof that a man has film-organizational 
mastery, and that having written scenarios is no in- 
dication of the capacity for conceiving themes based 
on a sensitivity to social experience on one hand and 
dynamic cinematic form on the other. 

What if Sternberg has been a camera man? The 
tricks and tonality of his photography are repetitive 
and monotonous, devoid of both inner meaning and 
pattern indicative of feeling for screen design, and, 
in short, without style. Curiously enough, he and 
pseudo-aesthetic critics label his camera direction as 
the work of a "stylist". 

What if Sternberg has graduated from the cutting 
room? His cutting — he has boasted to me that he 
cuts all his films — is among the worst examples 
of the simple linkage method, the most backward 
and unfilmic way of mounting film images and one 
that requires the least intellectual effort. The slipshod 
connection of the shots in his films shows a montage 
which fails to conceal this director's incredible ig- 
norance of cutting. His films are completely lacking 
in that irresistible tempo and rhythm which mark 
the montage of great films. 

What if he has been a scenarist? His scenarios — 
he writes them for his films* !) — call for a trivial 
methodology. They are given over to the propaga- 
tion of gloomy vagaries without psychological and 
social insight. The inference is that a scenarist who 
deliberately writes such scripts must lack intellectual 
honesty. But a scenarist who produces them without 

(1) This seeming privilege is reserved for "leading" Holly- 
wood directors because they can be depended upon to 
embody all those ingredients in a scenario which give 
a picture maximum appeal at the box office and to the 
region below the belt but none above the neckline. 

knowing how dishonest his material is, to speak char- 
itably, is simply ignorant. 

Sternberg cannot be accused of lacking a sense 
of integrity and honesty within the framework of 
his own distorted outlook, since he has fought, on 
occasion, in behalf of what he considers to be right. 
In one instance he walked out of a studio rather than 
compromise with what he thought were his convic- 
tions. Sternberg, however, is honest in that he be- 
lieves in his own ignorance. Yet his natural inclina- 
tion to wallow in it is hardly a valid enough reason 
for expecting the spectator to accept the ephemeral 
world and empty fantasies of his work, no matter 
how much he may believe in them himself. 

Consider a few of the many examples of Stern- 
berg's lack of psychological and social insight which 
marks his films: The problem of the young man 
driven frantic by unemployment in Salvation Hun- 
ters is evaded in the closing scenes which show him 
daydreaming on a plush sofa. In the same film, "the 
Brute", the burly captain of a barge, threatens with 
his fist a child of six, and physiological law is entire- 
ly discounted as the undersized, underfed young 
man hurls "the Brute" into an automobile. . . . 
In The Docks of New York a street-walker 
wearies of her wretched existence. She seeks 
a solution of her dilemma in suicide by jumping into 
the river. A ship stoker, who turns out to be sex- 
starved, sees her plunge and dives into the water to 
rescue her. He takes the girl to a dilapidated wharf 
hotel where he rents a room for her. But on the 
following morning she arises and props herself 
against a pillow and appears fresh as a daisy, her hair 
and finger nails so carefully groomed as to suggest 
that she spent the night in a luxurious beauty parlor. 
... In The Case of Lena Smith the young peasant 
mother climbs over a high barbed wire fence to enter 
a large orphans' ward in a hospital, seizes her baby 
born out of wedlock and escapes unobserved. . . . 
The more than middle-aged Herr Professor of The 
Blue Angel becomes a pimp because of his devotion 
to a cabaret singer of recent acquaintance; and 
despite having been dismissed from his post because 
of that infatuation, the picture fades out on a 
sequence in which the old professor mysteriously 
enters the school building on a day when it is closed 
and dies at his old desk. In this film Sternberg re- 
veals such an abnormal interest in the singer's physi- 
cal area below the hips that he succeeded in establish- 
ing Marlene Dietrich in the minds of filmgoers as 
the image of a slut. . . . His ignorance of the part 
played by economic determinism in the sex life of 
the capitalistic West led him to picture an Anglo- 
Saxon cabaret singer in Morocco as leaving her 
wealthy suitor on the edge of the desert, to join the 
female dregs that trail the French Foreign Legion 
so that she might be near her soldier. Sternberg's 
distorted conception of the relation between man 
and his socio-economic background shows why 
this director is incapable of thinking the behaviour 
of his characters through to a logical con- 
clusion. And this is the film maestro who was as- 
signed the job of filming An American Tragedy, a 
work whose picturization called for a director of 


keenest social-analytic powers as well as mastery of 
film structure. 

A director so sadly limited, technically and in- 
tellectually, as Sternberg appears to be must needs 
lean upon two props in order to get by with his 
distortions of reality which gibe so nicely with the 
degenerate idealogy of the bourgeois cinema. These 
two props are ( 1 ) Pictorialism for its own sake and 
(2) player "personality". In this respect, Sternberg 
is no different than his directorial contemporaries in 
Hollywood whom he regards patronizingly. Al- 
though his pictorial talent is more developed than 
that of the majority of Hollywood directors, it is 
thin when compared with the grandeur of the pic- 
torialisms in Murnau's Faust and Dracula. More- 
over, Murnau, in addition to possessing the ability 
for imparting remarkable rhythm and continuity to 
his films, usually employed his richly pictorial mind 
for the exposition of plausible mood or situation. 
Beside the arbitrarily selected patterns of the 
images by Dovzhenko, Dreyer or Eisenstein, Stern- 
berg's little pictorial talent is analogous to an insipid 
magazine illustration in contrast with a mural by 
Rivera or Orozco. The scenes in the productions by 
Hollywood's messiah of film art are very much like 
the first attempts of arty film amateurs who play 
with light, shadow and tone around, under and 
above objects with complete indifference to any in- 
ner meaning of the images. There may have been a 
time when Sternberg may have fitted into the field 
of illustrative photography — a field in which he 
properly belongs rather than in motion pictures — 
but the advances among photographers in their ap- 
proach to the object have become so forthright that 
it is doubtful whether he could hold his own among 
them today. 

Sternberg's pictorialisms rarely conceal his pover- 
ty in film-structural invention and forced, pre- 
tentious direction of players, light and camera. His 
concern with the pictorial for its own sake is one 
of the reasons why no Sternberg film ever presents 
an image with a relationship to another image for the 
purpose of developing an independent image idea (1 * 
in the mind of the spectator, thereby enabling 
the spectator to discover for himself the significance 
of a situation or an idea. He is not equipped artis- 
tically, technically or mentally to build a film hav- 
ing the montage structure of such a picture as young 
Raisman's In Old Siberia, a Soviet film of minor 

Like other directors in the non-filmic tradition 
Sternberg is compelled to escape from the problems 
of film structure by depending upon a simple, un- 

ci) To be fair to Sternberg, we may recall the one and 
only instance of this montage in the many films he has 
made. This occurred in The Case of Lena Smith, viz., 
the scene of the man taking a revolver out of the 
dresser drawer, which cuts to a scene of the smoke 
floating past the dresser drawer but with the man out 
of the picture. The implication, of course, is obvious ■ — 
namely, that the man killed himself during the interval 
between the two scenes. This set all Hollywood astir, 
and Welford Beaton in his Film Spectator pronounced 
this mounting as an example of "brains". However, it 
is more than likely that this use of contrast between 
two shots, elementary as it was, was due to one of 
Elder Will Hays' dicta that suicides must not be 
portrayed too explicitly upon the screen. 

imaginative linear movement of his players and their 
physiological peculiarities. He does not, because he 
cannot, utilize light, player and inanimate object for 
building up a dramatic idea, a psychological or social 
implication as do Dovzhenko, Pabst and Eisenstein. 
It is impossible to imagine. Sternberg conceiving a 
striking commentary with an acidity such as we 
find in one of the sequences of Stroheim's The 
Wedding March. 

In this particular sequence the baron as a symbol 
of the nobility and the manufacturer as a symbol 
of the capitalist-bourgeoisie are dead-drunk as they 
haggle, while seated on the floor of a fashionable 
brothel, over the terms of marriage between the 
baron's son and the industrialist's crippled 

It is interesting to note that when Sternberg 
wanted to improve upon the visual appeal of his 
films that he chose to go to Erich Pommer who 
excels at imparting a highly professional slickness to 
a motion picture, a quality which Sternberg today 
employs in his work as a veneer for the artificial 
content of his scenarios. 

A director filming artificial content shuns any 
but artificially technical methods. Sternberg evades 
the ideological material necessitated by clearly- 
wrought image patterns. He would be incompetent to 
picture a theme like that of Carl Dreyer's Joan of 
Arc in which almost every image presented the sharp 
plasticity of the object. On the contrary, Sternberg 
evades the challenge of the object in his abuse of 
soft focus, lap dissolves and superimposed dissolves. 
The incoherence and superficiality of his thematic 
material, combined with his meaningless optical ef- 
fects, only succeed in making the spectator feel the 
vacuity of this director's mind. 

Sternberg's directorial incoherence and lack of pro- 
portion in dramatic values, due to his ignorance 
of the relation of man to his environment, are 
evident in his mechanical, schematic handling of 
players. They always strut. Whether the picture be 
Underworld, The Docks of New York, The Blue 
Angel, Morocco, Dishonored or An American Trage- 
dy, the women are always pushing each other or 
posturing about with hands on their hips. Olga 
Baclanova, a better interpreter of character and pace 
than Sternberg, and Emil Jannings, are the only 
players who have successfully rebelled at Sternberg's 
inability to probe human types in relation to en- 
vironment and behaviour. The players in his films 
strut — his pictures may be called strutting pictures 
— because he cannot build up image concepts and 
patterns with fragments of objects for the inten- 
sification of an idea or an emotion. His players must 
needs strut because the falseness of the content in 
his scenarios makes it impossible for him to cut a 
film so that it may present the greatest number of 
image ideas in the running time of the picture — even 
if he were able to cut a film in this manner. He 
moves instead of cuts, which is typical of all 
directors who build their films either in the non- 
cinematic pictorial and semi-theatre traditions of the 
motion picture. Sternberg's players strut because he 
cannot use the camera filmically for the selection of 


significantly graded and related images in time and 


A director so inarticulate in visual film language, 
so fearful of a test of his feeble abilities by demands 
based upon a dynamic presentation of the object, is 
certain to flee from subject matter which requires 
a selection of formal means essential to a dialectic 
analysis of psychological and sociological phenomena. 
That is why Sternberg made a sorry mess of An 
American Tragedy. Evasion of the filmic treatment 
of the object charcterizes every Sternberg film, a 
fact which explains why he has never directed a 
picture in which the material necessitates the totality 
of an idea built up by a series of images physically 
independent of each other in time and space. He 
would be like a lost child wandering in a 
mountain fastness if he had to cope with some 
of the powerful sequences which Dovzhenko com- 
poses out of such shots. Nor could Sternberg build 
up the impact of an emotion or a situation by ana- 
lyses and sub-divisions of motion, either by breaking 
into it with in-between scenes or depicting its mean- 
ing with a succession of scenes as Eisenstein has done 
with telling effect in various sequences in Cruiser 
Potemkin and Old and New. The fact that neither 
Sternberg nor his Hollywood contemporaries have ever 
attempted to experiment with these montage forms 
shows how far they lag behind the progress of film 
practice in a purely formal sense. It would take a 
volume to point out instances of Sternberg's wrong 
treatment of camera placement in which certain aver- 
age German and English directors outdistance him 
completely. I know of movie amateurs who could 
help him immeasurably with the problems of camera 
placement. On this point he could learn a great deal 
from the younger students at the Moscow State Film 
University. It can be said without fear of contradic- 
tion that neither Sternberg nor his Hollywood col- 
leagues, with the exception of Rowland Brown, are 
even capable of mounting so simple an event as a 
speeding train. For that they might have to look 
up Trauburg's China Express and some of the early 
experimental films by Walter Ruttmann. Sternberg 
and the other Hollywood directors as a whole have 
wasted too much time with effects secured by non- 
filmic photography, legs, buttocks and glycerine 

Salvation Hunters was the first film directed by 
Sternberg. It was an independent venture by Stern- 
berg, featured bu such vicissitudes as lack of funds, 
materials and even food, for the director frequently 
did not have money for his lunches, all of which 
should have made Sternberg curious about the con- 
tradictions in a society in which creative effort is 
virtually hamstrung 

Although Sternberg assured the writer that 
Salvation Hunters was an effort of which he was 
ashamed, it appears that he has reversed his position 
and declared to others that he considers this his best 
picture. Salvation Hunters was made after Stro- 
heim's Greed began shocking the acquisitive instincts 
of the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeoisie. The 
visual grimness of the objects, locales and characters 

in Greed was interwoven with the ideological con- 
tent of the film. In Salvation Hunters however, 
Sternberg sought to imitate the optical realism of 
Greed for a theme that was the antithesis of Stro- 
heim's picture. The caprice of the arty poseur — the 
fitful treatment of objects, players, camera and cut- 
ting — were unfolded in every shot. The sombre ton- 
ality of the mud, the dirt, the wharves and the 
water with its patterns of shimmering light were 
interesting only as photographic illustrations. As for 
having any montage value they were negligible. 
These shots showed that it is more important for 
a film to contain a powerful montage of image ideas 
even if it dispense with artistic photography than 
to consist of "arty" images recorded for their own 
sake with indifference to their filmic organization. 

Thus, in his first directorial effort Sternberg 
revealed he was unaware that the conclusion 
of his theme was artificial and its montage 
the antithesis of dynamic constructive cutting. The 
tedious pace and long scenes of the picture, tiresome 
because they contained none of the tension and 
situation that justify long scenes, set forth Stern- 
berg's deficiencies in film structure although up to 
the time he made this film he had worked at 
various jobs around film studios for twelve or thir- 
teen years. It is also pertinent to add that the slow 
pace of his films suggests a feverish straining after a 
dignity entirely absent in the dope-laden content 
of his themes. But as Salvation Hunters cost $5,000 
one suspects that it was produced to show film 
magnates how cheaply a film might be manufac- 
tured. Sternberg succeeded in his objective since the 
film culminated in a directorial job with Metro- 


However, in essentials Sternberg has been dead on 
his feet ever since he made Salvation Hunters. Bad 
montage and an amazing ignorance of the moving 
forces behind human behaviour and social reality 
cluttered up his subsequent films — The Dragnet, The 
Last Command, The Docks of New York, The Case 
of Lena Smith, all silent films, and such talkies as 
The Blue Angel, Dishonored, Morocco, An Ameri- 
can Tragedy, Shanghai Express and Blonde Venus. 
Sternberg has nothing to learn in motion pictures 
but in Shanghai Express he flattered Trauberg and 
Dovzhenko, the former by imitating China Ex- 
press both in genre and action while from Dov- 
zhenko's Arsenal he adapted cliches from the freight 
train sequence. But the imitation of vital formal 
methods is inherent in a failure to realize that they 
also represent an elucidation of man and his rela- 
tion to his immediate world. 

Of course, the Hollywood cinema is so regimented 
that a dialectic analysis of social reality, artistically 
elucidated, is well nigh impossible. Nevertheless 
there are opportunities for a director even in Holly- 
wood, if he have the will, ability and perception to 
single out incidents and situations in his thematic 
material which he may convert into images of social 
experience and give them vigorous filmic form. That 
this can be done is shown by Rowland Brown's 
Quick Millions, one of the few masterfully mounted 


pictures that have come from Hollywood. But Stern- 
berg has neither consciousness of reality nor con- 
sciousness of film form, both of which impel a 
director to create film reality. 

It is well to note here that an ultra-reactionary 
organization like The Daughters of the American 
Revolution was keen enough to put its finger upon 
the social challenge to bourgeois religion, morals, 
economics and law in Dreiser's An American Trag- 
edy. The Daughters proceeded to meet that 
challenge by demanding that the National 
Board of Review, in which the D.A.R. plays a dom- 
inant role, protest to the Hays office against Dreis- 
er's slashing attack. And despite the various shades 
of liberals and radicals who belong to it, the Na- 
tional Board of Review obeyed the dictum of the 
D.A.R. , since it is inconceivable that the Daughters 
would cooperate with an organization which they 
could not influence. But all that Sternberg saw in 
Dreiser's novel was an illicit sex affair which ended 
in two killings, one of the girl by the young man 
and the other of the young man by the law. That 
bourgeois society molded and then by law murdered 
a young man reared in its image, escaped Sternberg. 
For that matter, there is not a single so-called "big" 
director in Hollywood who is intellectually, tech- 
nically and artistically qualified to do justice to the 
theme in Dreiser's novel. The only director — 
Eisenstein — who was thus qualified was rejected 
by the American film industry. So great was Stern- 
berg's exultation at the humiliation of a fine motion 
picture artist that after being assigned the picturiza- 
tion of An American Tragedy he arrogantly pro- 
claimed that " Hollywood (meaning Sternberg?) 
has absolutely nothing to learn in motion pictures". 
Such defiance had in it too much the note of fear 
— the consternation of a novice lest a film made on 
American soil by Eisenstein would have sharply 
exposed the backward status of Hollywood 
cinema. Furthermore, Sternberg sought to conceal 
his own failure to understand Dreiser's social inter- 
pretation by confusing the controversy between 
Paramount and Dreiser with statements to the effect 
that all the content of so long a novel as An Amer- 
ican Tragedy could not be filmed. And Ray Long, 
at the time already released from Hearst's editorial 
stables, erstwhile book publisher and now a story 
buyer for a film studio, also hauled out an opinion 
from the depths of his dubious profundity which 
amounted to a defense of Sternberg's attempt to 
camouflage his own unfamiliarity with social reality. 

For present purposes it is well to offer a brief 
comparison with Fritz Wendhausen's silent film, The 
Trial of Donald Westhoff, made some years ago in 
pre-Hitler Germany and one of the most notable 
productions in the annals of cinema. Its theme, 
barring minor variations, was similar to that of 
An American Tragedy in that it portrayed the social 
bankruptcy of bourgeois society in its attitude to- 
ward the problems of youth and the effects of that 
society upon the weak, negative traits of a young 
man who seeks to adjust himself to it. From The 
Trial of Donald Westhoff Sternberg, who has im- 
plied that he has nothing to learn about films from 
any country, could derive something about funda- 
mentals in structural cutting, rhythm and filmic- 
visual language; how to develop striking implications 
through intensively graded fragments of ob- 
jects; how to direct players; how to exploit the pro- 
perties of the camera with psychological insight; 
and how to interpret social experience. So well- 
planned, tightly constructed and sensitively directed 
was Wendhausen's picture that those who saw it 
remember it as a rare experience. Beside it Sternberg's 
version of an American Tragedy was a feeble pre- 
tense at film making; one which served indubitably 
as an exposal of his shallow conception of filmic, 
human and social values. A comparative showing 
of the two films, in spite of the fact that one is 
silent and the other audible, would deflate Sternberg 
as a director, shatter his pose as the messiah of film 
art in Hollywood and prove him to be a cock-of- 
the-walk who is one of the most retrogressive 
directors that ever set foot on a movie lot. 
Moreover, such a comparison would show that Eisen- 
stein's exit from Hollywood holds one clear im- 
plication — namely, that Sternberg and the other 
"leading", "eminent" film maestros of Hollywood 
could not risk the inevitable reactions which would 
have followed the showing of an American-Eisen- 
stein film in American film houses. The presence of 
Eisenstein in Hollywood meant that the tinsel 
foundations of Sternberg's and of many other direc- 
torial reputations in Hollywood were threatened! ! ! 
And that could not be! How the colony must have 
rejoiced at Eisenstein's exit. Who knows but that in 
their degradation they may have echoed the 
Sternbergian refrains of "Hollywood has nothing to 
learn" and "Oh -my Hollywood, my beloved Holly- 
wood!" — the Hollywood which is being destroyed 
by its own incompetence and the general crisis now 
shaking the foundations of capitalist society. 


Still from Hell on Earth, 

first international sound 
film in English, French 
and German. Directed by 
Paul Trivas. 


A still from Lot in Sodom, 

directed by Watson and 




As related to L. Linhart and translated by K. Santor 

After the Revolution the Ukranian cinema was 
forced to make its start at the very foundation by 
erecting studios and by creating a new staff of film- 

I began my film-work in the Wufku Studios, 
which are now known as "Ukranian-Film" and 
where I have been working up to now. 

Two pictures form the main turning-points of 
my work: Arsenal and So/7. I create my pictures 
on the basis of social motives. The story itself has 
no value for me unless it is the resultant of a certain 
social form. This point of view determines also the 
method of my work. I call it 
Synthetic Method: 

Out of a great quantity of material, which would 
suffice for the creation of five or six pictures, I 
make one single film, linked together by unusually 
strong tension. It represents a certain condensation 
of the material into one single whole. 

I choose my characters in such a way that they 
have the ear-marks not only of a film-hero, but of 
whole social groups. It is the well-known "method 
of types" of Soviet cinematography. 

Arsenal is the first turning point of my work. 
(Dovzhenko considers his two preceding pictures, 
Diplomatic Luggage and Zvenigora, purely as the 
studies for his creative work. L. L.) 
It has an historical basis: 

— the end of the Imperialist War of 1914-1918 
— the decay of the Russian lines 
— the return of the soldiers to their homes 
— their stay in the territory of the Ukraine 
— and the first outbursts of revolution. 
There arose in Ukraine during the Revolution, 
two chief problems: national and social. 

The national problem was the object of activity 
of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie and of a section of the 
intellectual workers. These men, in order to attain 
their national interests, sacrificed the social ones 
which were defended by workers, farmers and the 
remaining intellectual workers. This conflict of in- 
terests was the reason for the disunion between the 
bourgeoisie on the one side and the proletariat on the 
other side. 

This is the very idea on which Arsenal is based. 
It contains material which would really do for five 
or six pictures. But it is made in such a way that 
through the smallest amount of material, which is 
at hand, is expressed the greatest quantity of ideas 
and social emotions. 

Arsenal expresses the struggle of the workers to 
achieve a Soviet government in the Ukraine. It is 
a fighting-picture which condenses the above-men- 
tioned events; it comprises not only Kiev (Kyjiv) 

with its environs and outlying districts, but Ukraine 
as a whole. 

which also documents the proper method of the 
Soviet cinema in the representation of material, a 
method which corresponds rigorously to the content 
of a picture. 

Just as there exist in the world two political 
systems — Communist and capitalist — , so there 
are two systems of cinematography. On the one 
hand, Soviet cinematography; on the other hand, 
French, American, etc. cinematography. 

The subjects of American as well as European 
cinematography are: love, strong hero, beautiful 
women, beautiful scenery, toilettes, luxury, etc. They 
have been successful in finding certain audiences in 
the Old as well as in the New World. The Soviet 
cinema was also compelled to find certain elements 
to gain the favor of its proletarian public. It had 
to find a firm way and the result was that it gained 
not only the favor of its own Soviet public, but 
also the enthusiasm of sections of the audience in 
capitalistic states, especially in Europe. 

The Soviet cinema found its public because of 
these elements: 

— masses, crowds, mobs; 
— colossal movements; 
— special subjects; 
— special camera angles; 
— tempo. 

In So/7 I wished to work in another way. I 
wished to eliminate by means of the great speed of 
the proper motion all the naturally effective pas- 
sages; and I chose also a simple subject. A concrete 
instance will show how I worked: 

Straight field, common village, common men. 
These are the three most common elements, which 
enabled me to rely only on my art and on my 
man-actor. From time to time I do not use an actor 
at all. 

In So/7, for instance, one of the principal parts 
is played by a simple stovemaker. 

In working with a non-actor, I must use 

What is the difference between a non-actor and 
an actor? A non-actor does not know the technical 
ways and what to do with time, (i.e., with time in 
a picture, with the duration of speed and of move- 
ments, etc.) The problem is to create a type of 
situation in which the non-actor, just as the actor, 
would forget that he is playing before the camera; 
in other words, to create a situation in which a 
non-actor is not playing but working. Then it often 
occurs that the director forgets his role as a director 
and influences the non-actor as man to man. It 

. I 


is necessary that a non-actor should feel what is 
demanded of him. 

There are sometimes cases when it is very difficult 
to explain to a non-actor. In such instances I use 
the so-called 


To force a non-actor to make a certain grimace 
or movement. To provoke him to do it. For instance, 
a scene requires astonishment; — then, to provoke 
in him the expression of this astonishment by the 
aid of the feats of a skillful juggler. 

represent the fundamental conception of my picture 
Soil. Not a great subject, but, instead, the factors 
constituting a social state. My task was to evoke 
through these factors certain associations in the 
spectator. My work was guided by 


To create a picture which would lure the specta- 
tor to see it not only once, but to go and see it 
several times. If we can look many times at Raphael's 
or Rembrandt's pictures; if we can always read 
Byron or Goethe, or hear Beethoven's music, or 
follow Shakespeare's lines, why should it not be 
possible to see also several times a valuable, artistic 



to make a picture which the spectator looks at 
only passively, being in the theatre with his girl or 
sweetheart, and after leaving it, he lights a cigarette 
and five minutes later forgets all that he has seen, 

or to make a picture which the spectator does 
not fully understand the first time he sees it because 
of the new method, but which incites in him a cer- 
tain unrest, which forces him to think, to meditate, 
to be active? 

I am convinced that only this latter method is 
the right one and that it is just by this method 
that we are able to disentangle films from their 
present embryonic state and to create a film that 
may be called a valuable contribution to art. 


represents the second turning-point in the devel- 
opment of cinematography. It has entirely changed 
the physiognomy of the cinema. There is occurring 
today a certain kind of transition from the silent 
film to the sound-film. It is the talking-picture, 
which in its present form is the greatest mistake as 
far as the sound-film is concerned. The "talkies" may 
be compared to the worst stage ventures and, apart 

from this, they are destroying the internationalism 
of the cinema. They are making it unintelligible, 


can be used in a picture in an international sense. 
Imagine, as a simple instance, a panic in a big stock 
exchange: men are talking here in different 
languages, but in spite of this we know that they 
are expressing panic, fear, fight. Another instance: 
A ship with fifty sailors of different nationalities. 
The sailors do not understand the words of their 
languages; the price of the cargo has fallen in the 
stock exchange and the ship must be destroyed; this 
news is caught by the radio-telegrapher who does 
not understand the languages of the sailors but tries 
desperately to explain it to them; the sailors do not 
understand the words, but they begin to understand 
the meaning of his language; they see horror, death; 
they look for rescue; and, though they speak differ- 
ent languages, they understand each other quite well 
now. In both instances we may see the relation of 
sound, in our example of word, to the image and 
even to the whole composition of the film. 

Apart from words, there are a great many 

which are just as expressive, emotional and rich as 
is the word in a sound-picture. But up to now they 
have not been fully utilized. They serve as mere 
illustrative material, while actually they have such 
great possibilities as far as the artistic synthesis of 
sound and image is concerned. 

And then there is another element in a sound- 
picture, which is not to be forgotten: 


How colorful, how emotional an element is silence 
in a sound-film! It may seem that silence is always 
the same, but, for instance, you surely can see the 
difference between the silence in a room and the 
silence in polar countries! 

From these instances we may see also the im- 
portance of 


We connect sound with image merely mechani- 
cally. Sound must not be reproduced merely because 
it is, itself, a fact, a reality (for its own sake). 
First we ought to realize what a sound-film really is, 
and then we shall not confine ourselves to the mere 
recording of sound, but we shall strive to attain 
artistic creation on the basis of the relations and 
proportions of sound to the image. 



Masses scattered. No de- 
sign of individual units. 
Result: CHAOS. 

From Hell's Highway 

directed by Rowland 


Shapes, masses and stress, 
dramatically organized. 

From In Old Siberia directed by Raisman 



Dziga Vertoff, the Russian film-pioneer is on a 
tour through Europe. He has been in Berlin for a 
few days, in Paris, London, Holland, and every- 
where he has given lectures on Russian film-art, on 
the film-art in general and on his own sound-film 
Enthusiasm, Symphony of the Don-Basin in par- 

A talk with Vertoff pays. For is he not the 
great discoverer of new possibilities in filming? For 
the greater part we owe to him the notion of con- 
struction, the foundation of all film-aesthetics and 
still now, every new film which he produces is a 
seeking for new forms of expression. It does not 
affect him that others popularize the possibilities 
discovered by him, and get credit for it. He doesn't 
want the great international cinema-crowd. He 
seeks the film, that is; the film as a special and inde- 
pendent means of expression (which needn't neces- 
sarily be a form of art to him). 

In 1919, he started his first attack on the film- 
industry of that time by condemning the Russian 
comedy-film, by means of a manifesto and by de- 
manding the fabrication of pictures, without actors, 
without action, and without artificial scenery. He 
also pleaded for the sound-film which couldn't, at 
that time, be foreseen at all, in that same manifesto, 
which could not be published until 1921. 

But before that Vertoff had achieved some prac- 
tical work, namely when in 1918 he arranged and 
made up forty weekly news-films after the princi- 
ples of the Film-Eye group, supplied by him. 

In 1919, he made his first great picture, the his- 
torical documentary film, A Year of Revolution, 
out of existing film-material. One year later it 
was followed by The Struggle of Tsaritsin, again 
a documentary film which, however, in striking 
contrast to the methods of that time, he arranged 
out of small groups of two or three pictures. This 
film was his first step in the direction of his last 
and most famous silent-picture The Man With the 

In 1921 were published two sensational manifestos 
— "one destructive and one constructive" as Ver- 
toff calls them himself. The first demand in these 
manifestos was that the programs in the cinemas 
should no longer consist of 99 percent acted films 
and 1 per cent of documentary films, but for 75 
per cent of documentary ones (actual, scientific and 
culture films), and, at the most, for 2 5 per cent 
of acted pictures. It was called the Lenin Propor- 
tion as Lenin, who has asserted himself that the 
actual news-film was to be the foundation for cine- 
matography, had exacted a similar demand. In the 
manifesto, it was pointed out that also in daily life 
the stage takes up about 10 per cent of the time and 
that one is wrong in including the general means 
of expression "Films" in that tenth part. So the 
group "Film-Eye" demanded that film-studios 

should be built in which merely documentary films 
were to be produced, not only for Russia, but for 
the whole world. 

The "Film-Eye" also contains the program of 
Vertoff and his men. As the microscope and the 
telescope are means by which the eye can see small 
and distant objects, so the film-eye — "the camera" 
— is a means for the human eye to conquer space 
as well as time and, besides, the subjective human 
way of seeing. Therefore the film is the ideal 
means to render facts, to teach people to see in an 
organized way, to show them that which — through 
the difference in time or place — they cannot spot 
with the naked eye. 

After the manifesto on the "Film-Eye" Vertoff 
brought us one on "Film Truth." In the period 
from 1922-25 he produced 23 small and great 
films, which he called "Film-Truths" and which 
were devoted to the most divergent subjects. Ver- 
toff enumerates some of them: Spring, Two Worlds, 
The Black Sea, The White Sea, Moscow; Today, To- 
morrow, Yesterday, Pioneers, Radio and Lenin. All 
these films were documentary, but made up in a 
very unnatural way. Neither the connection of 
time nor that of place is respected. The pure film- 
force of contrast and harmony, the impulse of the 
didactic construction, leads the composition. This 
Vertoff style forms the greatest possible contrast 
with the usual style of acted films and yet, one day 
a man appears who seeks the middle between two 
poles and who connects the form, the composition 
and the scenery of the "film-truths" with the the- 
atrical means of acted films: Eisenstein produces 
his Potemkin. 

In the meantime in 1923 there appears Vertoff 's 
film, The Film-Eye, in which he realizes his the- 
ories in a strictly dogmatic way. In 192 5, March 
Soviet, a striking symphony of the raising of a new 
society; starting from hunger, misery and death and 
rising to an apotheosis of the new life. In 1926, 
follows a sound-film experiment, The Sixth Part 
of the World, a heavy political film, accompanied 
by spoken text, which was broadcast from a wire- 
less station into the film house. In 1927, Vertoff 
produces The Eleventh Year, a non-speaking film 
the construction of which is on a musical founda- 
tion. And in 1928, his last silent picture, The 
Man With the Camera. With this the first part of 
Vertoff's work comes to a close, for Enthusiasm, 
which he produced in 1930, is according to him, 
not his last but his first picture. (This explains 
Vertoff's attitude towards the sound-film.) 

Also when making this sound-film, Vertoff at 
once found his own method. From the very be- 
ginning he did not take any notice of the carefully 
constructed theories of the technical men. Whilst 
these gentlemen gave severe orders that at two miles 
distance round the studio no noise was to be made, 


or else the filming in the studio would surely come 
to nothing, Vertoff with his apparatus went 
straight to the most uproarious spot in the whole 
of Russia, the Don Basin. He didn't want to have 
anything to do with the sound-proof studio; he 
didn't even condescend to make one single studio- 
picture. On the contrary he hung his microphones 
in spots where there was so much noise that the 
human ear couldn't take it all in. He placed his 
camera on the ground which trembled incessantly 
through the working of the engines. He made his 
pictures deep under the ground and sometimes in 
scorching heat. With his camera he climbed upon 
moving trains. He was present everywhere. With 
his film eye he saw all without being seen himself! 
For Vertoff doesn't use artificial scenery. He 
surprises life. He spies on it unseen from a hiding 
place, sometimes at a very great distance, for which 
he has a special filming system. But notwithstand- 
ing this systematic avoidance of all that is unreal, 
Enthusiasm is anything but a natural rendering of 
sound. For in Vertoff's hands, no film remains a 
reproduction of reality. He frees the film from an 

inferior position, and calls it to life, by means of 
a dynamic setting. Not only time and place have 
been torn asunder but also picture and sound are 
often separated, where they belong together. This 
film is not subdivided chronologically but consists 
of themes (march theme, theme of heavy toil, theme 
of sports, of a rest day, etc.) and has been composed 
of combinations and contrasts of these themes. Also, 
the sound is free from its natural functions and 
has a dynamic effect of its own by way of com- 
bination and contrast. More than once, two, three 
or four totally different sound-complexes are put 
together. The human language is at times only 
audible by means of a telegraphic Morse code. But 
nowhere has the sound been made artificially. It 
is everywhere taken straight from real life. 

Of course Vertoff is full of new plans. First 
of all on his journey he collects material for his 
new work. His film eye is always vigilant, and 
then he has another plan which has reached a fur- 
ther status: A sound film Lenin again without ac- 
tors, with the person of Lenin as found in the his- 
torical film-material. 



I. Inadequacy of Art Theories to the Crea- 
tive Experience. 

Literature: Quantitative and accented systems of 
versification do not provide enough plasticity to 
match the natural flexible flow of a tongue. 

The metric system turns into a Procrustean bed 
for the over-developed body of a living and evolving 

Music: Music is still waiting for its emancipation. 
The linguistic stamp is still revealed here and there. 

Enough syntactic cages and rhyming boundaries 
still exist in the music of our day. 

The creative and the interpretive instinct found 
its way out of these stuffy cells long, long ago. 

The scholastic theory routine, side by side with 
the archaic notation, are too rude to express the 
subtlety of "deviations and violations." 

The rhythm theory of the civilized world, orig- 
inated and expounded in German regiment quarters 
("eins, zwei; eins, zwei"), is but the first step in 
evolution of rhythm and is far behind its organic 

Cinema: Cinema was born in the age of the ma- 
ture theatre, the wilful neglect of technique in 
painting, with sculpture searching for new "ways 
and means"; architecture experiencing its first ren- 
aissance since antiquity; poetry pursuing music, and 
music trying to escape from this honorable affilia- 

The past of photography before the birth of cin- 
ema was not a very glorious one, but it fostered in 
the visual arts an attitude of respect toward optics: 
lense and illumination became a "condition sine 
qua non." . . . 

Without any art theory of its own, cinema has 

adopted bit by bit, and very eagerly, manners and 
attitudes from the various sources: literature, the- 
atre, photography, and even music. A compara- 
tively improved system of sound photography came 
into existence and application before the "motion 
picture people" made up their minds what to do 
with it. You know, they are too busy to think, but 
always ready to act. This mental and muscular 
attitude has already done plenty of harm and will 
do more. Accustomed to producing plays on the 
screen in silent form, they proceeded with the same, 
only making acting individuals talk. The other 
revelations were: to see and hear a band playing, a 
dancer tapping while music played, a Beethoven try- 
ing to express the narrow path of the Panama Canal. 
. . . We also experienced some unconsciously dia- 
letic productions: "hula-hula" dances at the Long 
Island Paramount Studios, and the U. S. battleships 
maneuvering in Honolulu. 

The alliance of cinema and music has already 
given most incredible results: A Rubinoff in full 
dress playing one of the numerous violin banalities 
(close up) in a foreground of ever-changing color- 
ful wilderness of a rugged landscape. The idea is: 
because some essential improvements were recently 
made in sound recording as well as in color photog- 
raphy, one has something to do with the other. And 
as noobdy is anxious to listen to a violin in a dark 
hall any more, let them have a "visual accompani- 

In any case, if there is such difficulty in handling 
an individual art form because of false premises and 
uncertainty in method, it should be many more 
times difficult, and not quite safe for posterity, to 
manipulate two or more arts at once, unless an ade- 
quate method will be adopted. 


II. General Premises. 
A. Negative. 

Fortunately, there is a point on which all true 
artists agree; in order to produce a work of art, it 
is necessary to induce order into relations of art 
material. This is called "rhythm" or "composi- 
tion." Nevertheless, the anarchy starts right from 
this point. What is rhythm, what is composition? 
One offers a fluent transition from one moment to 
another. The other prescribes conflicts at any time: 
conflicts between successive visual moments, con- 
flicts between sound moments, and finally, conflicts 
between any optical and acoustical moments. 

No doubt, for any particular purpose a group or 
a system of determined modifications can be adopted 
with the best result serving a special purpose. But 
it seems very naive to ascertain conflicts as a perma- 
nent necessity. It is untrue from politico-economi- 
cal standpoints: the working class is struggling for 
its happier and easier future and not for the sake 
of the struggle. It is untrue as well from the re- 
flexological viewpoint: constantly repeated reflexes 
of the same kind lose their intensity. Continuous 
evolving of dramatic conflicts does not intensify 
the audience's response. Dramatic quality (accumu- 
lated tension) in art is due to certain phenomena 
known to technology of art, which are somewhat 
similar to electric resistance obtained through a sys- 
tem of coils. In musical melody, for instance, it 
is due to such factors as relationship of time to 
pitch, revealed in the number of revolutions around 
the pitch axis and the difference in frequencies be- 
tween the axis and its related climax. 
B. Positive. 

The first requirement for the theory of art is 
that it should be a theory, i.e., such a logical sys- 
tem which should include all art phenomena of the 
past, present, and future as different phases reveal- 
ing different processes that are parts of the theory. 
In other words, it should take such a position to- 
wards art making as mathematical or theoretical 
physics takes towards experimental physics. Then 
the actual products of art will not be "exemptions 
from the theory," but will dissolve in the magni- 
tude of the law and its modifications. The uni- 
versality of this theory requires that its premises 
should be based on observations of natural phenom- 
ena and conclusions drawn therefrom. These prem- 
ises are: the space-time four-dimensional continuum 
and vibratory periodic phenomena. To produce a 
desirable quality in art it is necessary to know the 
technology and the mechanics of art on the one 
hand, and psychophysiological reactive processes on 
the other. The quantitative differences and inter- 
actions of all these components result in what ap- 
pears to us as "art quality." 
III. Essentials. 

Every art component is a continuum, and as such, 
in two dimensional graphic representation, result in 
an equilateral hyperbola. All points, therefore, ra- 
tional as well as irrational, can be found on this 
hyperbola. The amount of precision with which an 
integral component should be used determines its 
differentials. Normally, the perceptible range of 
an art component consists of a group of points on 
the hyperbola, not very remote from its vertex. 

This range, undoubtedly, will expand in the future 
owing to auxiliary optical and acoustical devices: 
higher frequencies of sound waves, ultra and infra 
light rays. The integral of rhythm in any art com- 
ponent can be expressed through the following series 
as a universal law of composition:' 

+ 00 
(l) 5x = _oo —x" —2 —1 — 1/x (— l/x) n 


(l/x) n 1/x 1 X x n 00 
where the negative values indicate the absence of 
the component or of one of its parameters. 
The foundation of European music in XVIII- 
XIX centuries is usually composed with x = 2, 
then — 


5 2 = (i/ 2 ) n Yz 2/2 2 2" 00 

or, as an average form: 
2 4 
S = (/ 2 ) 4 (Yz)' (Yz)- Yz 2/2 2 2 2 3 3 2 4 

In musical language this will mean: the first 
step in fractioning of a unit (the process occurring 
the left side of 2/2) known as a musical measure 

2 1 1 

will be: — = — + — +2> the second step: 

2 2 2 

2/2+ J4 = Ya+i '/4+t2 ^+t 3 %+U etc., when 
ti,to are the consecutive time units. The first step 
in factoring of a unit (the process occurring on the 
right side of 2/2) and known as the process of 
building groups of musical measures or phrases will 
be: 2/2 X 2 = 2; the second step: 2 2 -f- 4; the 
third 2 3 = 8 etc. 

This case being expressed graphically through an 
alternatingly moving segment of a stffaight line 
(being in this case a trajectory) growing at uni- 
form speed under right angle will mean: 
if X = 2, then— 2/2 + l / z t 1 + J4t 2 

(Fig. 1) 
2/2 = '/ 4 ti + l A*2 + V-LM + VaU (Fig. 2) 
where the dotted lines express the axis of 2/2. 

Therefore: 2/2 X 2 =4 will be: Ti = 2/2 
= ti + t 2 

(Fig. 3- (Fig. 4) 

T, = ti + t 2 + t 3 + t 4 
(Fig. 5) (Fig. 6) 

Or any of the other variations of the same design 
through the four quadrants. 

Musicians usually call this kind of composition 

"square music," which in linear design will mean: 

(Fig. 7) 

If X is represented by a binomial and its total 

value can be represented through 3/3, for example, 

then — 

X = 2/3 + 1/3 

X = 73 


Referring to a plane is gives the following appli- 
cation: if two sides of a rectangle are related as 



2:1, and a unit = l / 2 inch: 

(Fig- 8) 
The exterior sides determining the arcs of the 
second power will be: 

X = 1/3 + 2/3 
(2-3 + 1-3) 2 =4-9 + 2-9 + 2-9 -f 1-9 

(Fig- 9) 

Proceeding with higher powers of X in the form 
of a binomial fraction, one can split any given area 
into many fractional areas reserving the inherent 
relation of the whole. This is known as "harmonic 
division," though the power process has never been 
applied to it consciously. 

Synchronization of the visual-audible does not 
necessarily mean one to one correspondence. Dif- 
ferent components can be correlated through all the 
infinite variety of their different powers and differ- 
ent modifications of the same powers. Different 
parameters of the same component follow the same 
principle. This means that the continuum of one or 
more components can be represented through a sys- 
tem of parabolas, where the location of points ex- 
pressing different parameters can be determined. For 
instance, a certain tone applied for musical pur- 
poses may have p= — 3x (relation to the pitch 
axis), t=(l/5) 2 and i(intensity) ,== 2x. 

There are different ratios of correlation serving 
different purposes. For instance the rhythmic center 
for an image on a given area will be more dynamic 
or dramatic at the ratio 4:3 than at 1:1. The same 
is true referring to time for a whole composition: 
the suspension of a climax will be more effective at 
the ratio 3:2 than at 4:3 — as it develops later, it 
will seem tenser. All the variety of possible forms 
of rhythm values can be obtained through a com- 
plex which is incorporated in my theory of rhyth- 
mic cycles. This theory is built on three premises: 

(1) physical — periodic phenomena 

(2) Mathematical — powers 


(3) mathematical — combinations and permu- 

(combinatory analysis) 
The 'derivative values obtained through inter- 
ference of periods taken in different ratios for their 
periodicity gives a foundation for the generation 
of rhythm. All other modified forms are due to 
permutation and powers. 

Interference of two periods in 2:1 ratio, in rectil- 
inear representation, 

(Fig. 10) 
will not give any new 1 rhythm but 
will split the first period into the inverted value 
of the ratio 1/2. The resultant period will appear 
as the second of the two periods with interference 
at its odd places. This might physically result in 
periodic intensification by coincidence of phases or, 
the reverse, in periodic disappearance of the com- 
ponent by opposition of phases. In practical appli- 
cation to rhythm, in both cases it amounts to 
grouping. » 

3:1 ratio will be expressed 
(Fig. 11) (Fig. 12) 

The uneven rhythm values of derivative forms 
are obtained through interference of two or more 
periods of the second order if neither of their terms 
equals one. Therefore the simplest case will be: 

(Fig. 13) 
then the resultant of interference will be: 
(Fig. 14) 

3X2 = 6 X = 6/6 

px = 2-6 4- 1-6 + 1-6 + 2-6 
In the same way 4:3 ratio — 
(Fig. 15) 
then the resultant of interference will be: 
(Fig. 16) 

4 X 3 = 12 X = 12/12 

px = 3-12 4- 1-12 + 2-12 -f 2-12 + 1-12 + 3-12 
Rhythmic cycles obtained in such a manner have 
the three following characteristics: 

(1) periodicity — (through uniform value of units 
and recurrence of the whole cycle after com- 

(2) symmetry — (in relation to the axis point: an 
inverted symmetry providing contrast at the 
same time.) 

(3) balance — (formed around the axis or at the 
axis point, when the number of terms is 2n 
or 2n+l.) 

A rhythmic cycle, once obtained, provides many 
variations even at its first power. 
(3 + 1) + (2+2) + (1 + 3) 
P4:3 = 


being used with such a grouping provides three 

(3 + 1) + (2 + 2) + (1 + 3) 

(2 + 2) + (1 + 3) + (3 + 1) 

(1 + 3) + (3 + 1) + (2+2) m 
Grouping by single terms will give 6 variations 
through displacements and 36 — through permuta- 

Examples of application. 

A. Time application in music: 

(Fig. 17) in quarter note units 

B. Pitch application in music on axis c. 1/12 
unit amounts to 12 X square root of 2. 

(Fig. 18) 

C. The two results (time and pitch) combined: 

(Fig- 19) 

D. Corresponding results on a plane for develop- 
ment of a synchronized design: 

(1) extension values for straight segments un- 
der 90 degree angle; const, direction 

(Fig. 20) 

(2) extension and angle values under the 
same conditions: 

(Fig. 21) 

These examples of time, pitch, and line governed 
by a single rhythmic scheme, which may be stated 


Csf = StpFit, where C — continum, S — sound, 
p — spatial form, t — time, p — pitch, 
indicate that all are materials may be united by a 
universal law of synchronization. 


Diagrams Illustrating "A Theory of Synchronization' 

*■ ' t 



' t. 

t 4 \* 

N T 









X t. 


T. ^ 

t. / 

/ T, 

9 a" 

i r 

J L 


1* l+lt-1-.-l-t-l*!. 


i_n ru i_n 




14- : 

J 1 I 

i r 

I L 



i i i 
i i i 

l ~ Z ■+ 2 ■*■ I. 

3 * 3 -i- S... 

I I 


I I 

i u i__n 

i i 


. y-J 


2 ~ 



rr rr rra 


fto #° 




ff7 7- tf ^ 








A "Short" 

PANSHOT of a series of authentic World War 
posters with inscriptions: "Fight for Democracy," 
"Help the Boys Over There," "Liberty Forever," 
etc., etc. Finally the camera's eye focuses on a 
poster with a "four minute" speaker on a rostrum 
pointing a dramatic index finger at the audience. 
The speaker is slender, handsome, obviously ideal- 
ized. Beneath him is the inscription: "Your 
Country Needs You!" Behind the rostrum are the 
folds of a large American flag. 


CLOSEUP of another orator in action. The cam- 
era only shows the upper part of his body. He is 
quite fat with a formidable paunch, short, pudgy 
fingers, and a fine array of double chins. He is im- 
maculately dressed in a frock coat. One finger is 
extended in the same dramatic manner as in the 
poster. Behind him is a large American flag, un- 
dulating in the breeze. He speaks directly to the 
audience with the usual oratorical flourish: 

Your country needs you! Your government 
has called you to the colors to fight for liberty 
and democracy, to fight for those glorious prin- 
ciples upon which this great country was 
founded — the principles of Right and Eternal 
Justice. You are fighting for your homes and 
your firesides. You are fighting against tyranny 
and barbarism for a world of love and good- 
will. You are the heroes of today and tomorrow, 
and your country will never forget you and 
your sacrifices. 
CLOSEUP of the orator's back — his bull neck, 

baldness. He continues gesticulating and orating. 

The effect is grotesque. Then closeup of orator's 

front. He goes on speaking without a pause: 
You will always remain enshrined in the 
heart of every true patriot. And when the great 
day comes and you return victorious, we shall 
all greet you with hosannahs of joy, and you 
shall go down the years blessed and venerated 
for all time. . . . Your country calls. Your 
country needs you. (Again he points to the aud- 
ience with one dramatic finger, and then 
freezes in that attitude.) 
CLOSEUP of war poster with the handsome four 

minute speaker. 

Quick pan shot of other posters — in reverse. 
CLOSEUP of the orator, motionless. Suddenly a 

distant bugle call, then sounds of battle: cannon, 

machine- suns, bursting shrapnel, shouting. 
CLOSEUP of the muzzle of a large gun. 
CLOSEUP of the gun operator. He pulls lever. 
CLOSEUP: of the muzzle of the gun discharging 


CLOSEUP of the orator in the same attitude. 

The crescendo whistle of approaching shrapnel. A 
blinding fiash, a violent explosion. The frame com- 
prising the orator turns completely round like a 
pinwheel. The war posters appear, jumbled to- 
gether. They blot out the orator as they whirl about 
faster and faster. The sounds of battle continue. 
Again the noise of approaching shrapnel. Again a 
blinding flash, an explosion and the whirling posters 

MEDIUM SHOT of clouds of smoke. 

LONG SHOT of battle scene. American soldiers 
going over the top. 

MEDIUM SHOT of clouds of smoke. 

CLOSEUP of belching gun. 

RUNNING SHOT of German soldier advanc- 
ing across war-scarred fields with fixed bayonet. 

RUNNING SHOT of American soldier advanc- 
ing with fixed bayonet. 

CLOSEUP of German soldier and American 
soldier fighting. 

CLOSEUP of dead German. 

CLOSEUP of pile of dead American soldiers in 
front of barbed-wire entanglement. 

CLOSEUP of German soldier lying on his face 

CLOSEUP of American soldier leaning against the 
side of the trench, his face fixed in a perpetual 
grin. Blood trickles from his mouth. 

MEDIUM SHOT of the two dead soldiers near 
each other. 

The sounds of battle decrease until they are no 
longer heard. Then in the darkness a military band 
plays "The Star Spangled Banner." Then the jubi- 
lant shouting of multitudes. 

CLOSEUP of the legs of returning American 
soldiers, marching. 

CLOSEUP of the faces of welcoming crowd. 
Shouting, hysteria; flags, hats, handkerchiefs. The 
music continues. 

LONG SHOT of returning American soldiers and 
welcoming crowd. 

CLOSEUP of marching feet of the soldiers. 

CLOSEUP of crowd. 

TITLE: "AFTER . . ." 

MEDIUM SHOT of sign on a factory gate: "No 
Help Wanted." 

CLOSEUP of ex-soldier reading the sign. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a group of unemployed in 
front of the factory. Some of the men are still wear- 
ing part of their khaki uniforms. 

LONG SHOT of an endless bread line of jobless 

CLOSE UP of soup being ladled out in a charity 
joint. The eagerness of hungry men. 

PAN SHOT of street of empty stores with their 
"For Rent" signs very much in evidence. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a deserted factory. 

CLOSEUP of an idle lathe. Across the belt and 


the machinery a spider has spun a web. 

MEDIUM SHOT of crowd of unemployed work- 
ers at the water front. 

CLOSEUP of a worker looking at his torn shoes. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a crippled ex-soldier, in 
uniform, begging. 

LONG SHOT of another bread line on a cold 
night. Abject misery. The playing of "The Star 
Spangled Banner" continues through all these 

LONG SHOT of unemployed in a flop house. 
Row upon row of sleeping men. Poverty, squalor. 

LONG SHOT of a military cemetery. Row upon 
row of white crosses. 

CLOSEUP of legless ex-soldier. 

CLOSEUP of armless ex-soldier. 

CLOSEUP of an ex-soldier with a steel brace 
attached to the back of his neck. 

LONG SHOT of the unemployed riding freight 

CLOSEUP of a freight car crowded with 

MEDIUM SHOT of an eviction. Furniture piled 
upon the pavement. A woman seated in a chair 
on the pavement. She holds a small child in her lap; 
two other children are standing next to her. Nearby 
stands an emaciated man dressed in a ragged shirt 
and old military trousers. 

CLOSEUP of a crying woman. 

CLOSEUP of the ex-soldier. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a group of unemployed 
sleeping beneath a bridge or viaduct. They are 
covered with newspapers. 

LONG SHOT of a garbage dump. Men, women 
and children foraging about for food. 

MEDIUM SHOT of garbage dump. 

CLOSEUP of a woman stuffing a bit of food into 
a sack. 

CLOSEUP of a child picking up a crust of 
bread and eating it. 

MEDIUM SHOT of the Bonus Army marching 
on Washington. 

LONG SHOT of one of the Bonus Army 
"camps." ramshackle huts made of odds and ends. 
Poverty, filth. 

CLOSEUP of Bonus Army camp. 

LONG SHOT of Bonus Army being driven out 
of Washington. The burning camps in the back- 
ground and the dome of the Capitol. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a mass demonstration of the 

unemployed. The police go into action. Tear gas. 
Brutality. The scattering crowd. 

CLOSEUP of a police truncheon striking a 
worker's head. 

MEDIUM shot of the police in action. 

CLOSEUP of a bleeding worker lying uncon- 
scious in the gutter. 

MEDIUM SHOT of a shack in one of the many 
"New Deal Cities" in these United States. Appall- 
ing poverty. In the doorway of the shack stands an 
ex-soldier in an old ragged uniform. 

Fade in on title in large letters: "19 3 — ?" 
PAN SHOT of the same posters as in the first 
sequence shown in the same order. The camera moves 
quickly from one poster to another, and then focuses 
once more on the special poster with the inscrip- 
tion: "Your Country Needs You!" The same hand- 
some poster figure is pointing his finger at the 

CLOSEUP of an orator in a front coat. Unlike 
his fat predecessor in the early sequences, he is tall 
and thin. But he speaks with the same oratorical 
intonations and uses the same gestures. In general 
composition this shot closely resembles the one first 
shown of the fat orator. The music of "The Star 
Spangled Banner" is played softly at the beginning 
of the speech, but presently there is a rather abrupt 
crescendo until the new orator cannot be heard. 
(Pointing a finger at the audience) 
Your country needs you! Your government has 
called you to the colors to fight for liberty and 
democracy, to fight for those glorious principles 
upon which this great country was founded — the 
principles of Right and Eternal Justice. You are 
fighting for your homes and your firesides. You are 
fighting against tyranny and barbarism for a new 
world of love and goodwill. You are the heroes of 
today and tomorrow, and your country will never 
forget you and your glorious sacrifices. (Crescendo 
of music. The orator's mouth continues to move, 
but not a word more of his speech is heard.) 

NOTE — The editors of Experimental Cinema 
welcome scenarios by film experimenters and 
professional film workers dealing with the 
American scene. 



Letter from U. S. S. R. 

This letter will reach you late in summer. At 
the end of the summer we will have in Moscow 
several new sound films — Ivan by Dovzhenko, 
Motorship Pjatiljetka by Pudovkin. I know their 
scenarios well. They contradict the usual scenario 
forms. There is no love interest and no narrative 
construction. The scenarios deal directly with film 
reality. Try to remember how many pictures you've 
seen without love or risk. You immediately think of 
Turksib as probably the only one. Moscow critics 
wrote that Turksib doesn't show the real from the 
reel. It has been called an enthusiastic picture 
about the first steps of the Five Year Plan but 
doesn't portray the people as they are. However in 
Ivan and Motorship Pjatiljetka this will be more 
apparent and perhaps decided. 

What would this mean for world-cinematography? 
It would be the beginning of film art. It will prove 
that the cinema can work not only with emotion 
but with ideas. Try to imagine what kind of litera- 
ture it would be if the subject of the usual film 
drama were printed. It would be vulgar and all the 
tiresome details which we see on the screen would 

be senseless in print. You would have written a 
story about a story. This is the usual scenario. 

Pudovkin and Dovzhenko are attempting new 
cinema problems. Ivan and Pjatiljetka are the first 
real sound films. (The Road to Life and Golden 
Mountains were silent at first then reshot.) Soon the 
film will take its place beside literature and the 
theatre as an art. It will be an art of condensation. 
Life will be portrayed better than by the novelist 
of today or the theatrician. 

Pudovkin has recently written an article on his 
new montage theories. It deals mainly with move- 
ments on the screen based on the principle of per- 
ception. Pudovkin has developed the idea of per- 
ception of vision on the screen and analyzed their 
psychological causes and results. 

Two additional films that will soon come to 
America are The Ghost That Never Returns, di- 
rected by A. Room, scenario by Henri Barbusse. It 
deals with prison life in America. The other film is 
Salt of Svanetia by Kalatozow. It depicts the wild- 
est of Caucasian countries before the revolution. 


Letter From England 

From Barnsley, in the coal mining area of York- 
shire there comes in Black Diamonds a real workers- 
film, produced by the miners themselves under the 
direction of Miner-Producer Hanmer. 

It must not be compared too closely with that 
great mine film Kameradschaft, for Black Diamonds 
has not the finished style of its much talked of 
predecessor — in fact some of the more sophisticated 
would be inclined to call it crude. 

It shows a miner explaining to a Big Film 
Magnate what a mass of filmic material there is 
lying dormant in the coal mining industry. But 
the B. F. M., true to type is contemptuous of the 
idea, and turns it down. Then John Morgan the 
miner, tells him of the dangers and the hazards 
below the surface, of the miners at work and at 
play till, by some unprecedented miracle, the B. F. 

M. decides to go and see for himself. 

In this spirit of unusual enterpjrise the B. F. M. 
descends one of the local pits. But Dame Nature 
has a trick up her sleeve, and stages a real roof -fall. 
When the B. F. M. is dragged out and taken to 
hospital he is found to have lost the sight of both 
eyes, but as the film says "It is only now that he 
has begun to see". 

So now that we know what will open the eyes 
of the Big Film Magnates, all that remains for us, 
is to start a few special coal-pit tours and the Cin- 
ema will breathe and live. 

Black Diamond may be crude, but it succeeds by 
its very artlessness, for Hanmer and his minor- 
actors have filmed a true-to-life part of their own 
lives and sincerity is the keynote of this minor-epic 
of the Yorkshire coal-mines. 


Two still shots from a film directed and 
photographed by Henwar Rodakiewicz pre- 
senting the surface aspects of New England. 
Pictorially effective, but recorded without 
social understanding of contemporary New 




Upper still — A unified 
design of light and 

Lower still — Would have 
been better if the cam- 
era had been focused 
about half an inch from 
the top. 

Courtesy of Hound and Horn 

Above: Ivan (a sound film) 

Left: Arsenal 
Below: Soil 
































Dovzheno is one of the few great directors of 
whom the public at large knows very little. Those 
who have seen his films have come away with a 
new respect for the cinema. The complexity of 
Dovzhenko's form and content is as difficult to 
appreciate at one seeing as hearing Beethoven or read- 
ing Dosteovski for the first time. To attempt a com- 
parison between Dovzhenko and the Hollywood 
director is as far fetched as linking Bach with Irv- 
ing Berlin. 

Dovzhenko has an intense feeling for nature in 
its profound implications. It has been extremely 
difficult for him to adapt himself to the new and 
ever developing conditions of his immediate environs. 
His films typify this struggle of the individual to 
orient himself to the greater benefits of a socialized 
society. Dovzhenko's sincerity is reflected in images 
of power and sequences of beauty, and offer a glow- 
ing tribute to both the society which is moulding 
him and the artisan resultant from that society. 

Until the advent of sound Dovzhenko had made 
only three films: Svenigora, Arsenal, and So/7. 
Svenigora was a translation of a Ukranian folk tale. 
It was disliked and not understood. Arsenal, Dov- 
zhenko's second film unreeled Ukrania's struggle for 
freedom. Few liked it; less understood its strange 
cinematic construction. Those who did, called it, 
"extraordinary" and compared its director to 
Eisenstein. Eisenstein himself said, "Dovzhenko 
must be watched. He is infinitely more interesting 
than the film." A professional compliment from 
one who can afford to be generous. 

Soil, Dovzhenko's third film projected the class 
struggle in a Ukranian village. The film was a 
rhapsody of victory for a new society. Dovzhenko 
"the Ukranian" was called "a poet, a mystic." The 
film, it was claimed, was not "direct enough." The 
better directors admired its new montage struc- 
ture, while outside the Soviet Union the film was 
hailed as "a masterpiece." 

Unlike other directors, Dovzhenko has never 
been concerned in his films with problems of the 
individual, (Bed and Sofa, directed by Room) iso- 
lated revolutionary experiences, (Fragments of an 
Era, directed by Ermler) or acting, characteriza- 
tion, plot; formulas derived from literature and 
the theatre, and which permeate the world of cin- 
ema. Dovzhenko is the first director to make the 
spectator an active participant at a film showing. 
A film by Dovzhenko is an experience, not an escape. 
This is quite a revolution in itself when we think 
that ever since the bourgeoisie developed the prin- 
ciples of motion pictures, the film was always used 
as a palliative, as "entertainment". The social sig- 
nificance of this in a class society is very apparent. 

Dovzhenko understands too well the problem of 
tension and condensation of subject matter to 

sacrifice his material for "effects". His heroes are 
not "objects individualized", but heroic figures 
representative of social groups. His types are much 
deeper than character drawings. In the same way his 
films have no value as stories, i.e. plot, character- 
ization, and other paraphernalia of climactic de- 
velopment outside their social conflicts. It is this pro- 
found Marxian basis that determines Dovzhenko's 
method, propels his form. 

Eisenstein is perhaps the only other director who 
stands adamant in this "non-individualistic" ten- 
dency. Anisimov recently pointed out Eisenstein's 
failure to overcome his problem of the dialectical 
approach to the personal. "Objects pour down upon 
the heads of spectators in enormous quantities, — 
(Eisenstein's film Ten Days That Shook The 
World) — porcelain, cut-glass, chandeliers, 
statues, columns, architectural ensemble of the 
Winter Palace — all these not conforming to the 
basic content of the film are transformed into a 
real deluge of objects. We might say an objective 
deluge] The film which was to have been a history 
of the October Revolution becomes a horde of dead 
objects covered with the dust of museums. A curious 
paradox results: the museum objects are individual- 
ized and pictured with great exactitude while the 
movement of the masses appear drab, deprived of 
individuality and reduced to mere allegory! (All 
italics mine.) 

The great concern of Soviet directors has been 
schematism. Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Trauberg, Ermler, 
Room, Protazanoff, Barnett, single out incidental 
episodes, chip their character out of one cast and 
approach proletarian reality by a narrow schematic 
picture-continuity. A montage-system based on 
and developed from the discoveries of the 
bourgeois artist-director: D. W. Griffith. 

Eisenstein is the only other director beside 
Dovzhenko who has established an entirely new ap- 
proach to the film process. An approach part and 
parcel of the rapid growth and fertility of the soviet 
reality itself. 

In all his films Dovzhenko has avoided bourgeois 
tricks. His, even more than Eisenstein's, is the vital 
imagination. The revolutionary experience is deeply 
ingrained in him. He never leaves this social ap- 
proach to the theme. He projects the dialectics of the 
class struggle without resort to caricature. He 
never schematizes the social processes nor does 
he resort to film them into formalized, immobile, 
circumscribed pictures. The technique of montage 
never substitutes itself for the thematics of social- 
istic definitions. Dovzhenko's films are utilitarian 
and practical; a methodology of struggle and con- 
struction, teaching the audience, educating them, 
organizing them into proper directions and assum- 
ing an active role in their working-class lives. 




Periodically the motion picture enterprises find 
it necessary to conduct a mild offensive against the 
power of self -constituted censorship; not, however, 
in the interests of vital truths, but generally because 
of prurient interference with their pandering to 
sex-starved movie patrons with lurid sensationalism 
— sex problems arising out of the contradictory 
morals of the decaying system. 

These hypocritical sorties are conducted by press- 
agents, who display no vigor worthy of an intelligent 
revolt, but smugly compliment the industry upon 
past performance and begin their paper-weight at- 
tacks as follows: 

"Why should not Americans feel pride in and 

encourage an industry in which America leads 

the world and through which it is putting 

American conceptions of life before the world, 

not as propaganda [sic!], but with immense 

beneficial influence upon American prestige and 

commerce." 1 " 

Thus: "The sanctity of the institution of mar- 
riage and the home shall be upheld". ... In spite 
of wide spread paternal suicide and family homicide 
because of unemployment, eviction, and destitution! 
No hint of social decay. No cinema dramatization 
of the sufferings, thwartings, strivings of the des- 
titute millions. 

"Influence upon prestige and commerce". . . . But 
no public treatment of "sex-hygiene and prevention 
of venereal disease" or other social problems, lest 
intelligent understanding abolish the necessity for 
sex-hypocrisy so popular as a screen theme. 

"Putting American conceptions of life before the 
world". . . . But forbidding portrayal of miscegena- 
tion, and ignoring racial discrimination, race riots, 
wholesale disenfranchisement of negroes, persecution 
of the foreign born. 

In short, the intellectual bankruptcy of Hollywood 
films is accentuated by the social and economic 
bankruptcy of capitalist ownership and control, 
which dare not permit free and penetrating expres- 
sion of the problems it has created and aggravated, 
but instead hides behind a hypocritical mask of self- 
imposed censorship. 

Nor is the news-reel an exception. Here we are 
presented with freaks, frumps and oddities that give 
the American scene its circus character. Our risi- 
bilities are tickled with hog-calling contests, dancing 
marathons, two-headed calves and other trivia; our 
"souls" are served with sight and hearing of priests 
and prelates performing their aboriginal abracadabra; 
our sentiments appealed to by playful puppies and 
winsome babies; we are "educated" by means of 
thoroughly innocuous photography of temples, rites 
and picturesque happenings throughout the world, 

(,) A Summary of Arguments Against Censorship, 
Film Daily Year Book, 1931 — p. 671. 

none of which portray the violent upheavals attend- 
ing world economic collapse with either construc- 
tive or even consecutive sense. As to direct pro- 
paganda, kindly bankers stammer their love for 
dumb animals and indirectly inspire youngsters with 
the philosophy of individual success that is so neces- 
sary to sustain hope; but there is no suggestion of 
the misery caused by their insanely grasping, anti- 
social manipulations. Much space and speech is de- 
voted to the tariff and tax nostrums of industrial 
barons, but none to an intelligent summary of the 
social and economic chaos. Endless footage to Big- 
Navy — Bigger-Navy debates — but not a single 
plea for appropriating wealth to adequately house, 
feed and clothe the vast army of destitute workers. 

Every phase of rampant individualism and private 
accumulation, which has run civilization into a ditch 
from which only the organized workers can ex- 
tricate it, is exploited and propagandized in persons 
of prosy priests, bucolic bankers, political procurers, 
demagogic dunces, and pathetic princes. Individual 
power and success, whether in war, sport, crime, 
politics and exploitation, are presented without an- 
alysis of the motive or social effect, but rather with 
a view to inspiring a similar dog-eat-dog attitude, 
which is beautifully excused if only the "dough" is 
accumulated and the triumphant one is good-to-his- 
dear-old-mother. Thus private property, with its 
concomitants of ruthless greed and exploitation, is 
dignified — and supplemented with gross senti- 

"Czar" Hays makes sure that no idea subversive 
of anointed privilege reaches the workers through the 
films and stirs them to lively social consciousness. 
He maintains specific contacts in Washington for 
the news-reel companies, suggesting avenues for 
and limitations to exploitation of news events. 
Hence the ever-present excitement of military, naval 
and air-force grandeur and preparedness, stirring 
patriotic fervor and unthinking emotion, and adding 
to prejudices and hatreds already effectively sown by 
other propaganda agencies. But . . . the educational 
value of picturing bread-lines and masses of un- 
employed, together with enlightening comment 
emphasizing that this starvation takes place in the 
midst of plenty, is strictly barred. 

On the few occasions when mass demonstrations 
are photographed, their grim sense is apt to be per- 
verted by the banal humor of an announcer. How- 
ever, sometimes such scenes creep in by accident, as 
during the recent visit of Mayor Walker to San 
Francisco, when as background to this sycophant 
could be seen militant paraders with banners demand- 
ing adequate governmental relief for the unemployed, 
demanding the release of Mooney and Billings, and 
protesting against any attempt to invade Soviet 
Russia or in any way interfere with its process of 


socialist construction. On the other hand, a news- 
reel that recently deigned to show pictures of the 
Moscow celebrations of the Fourteenth Annversary 
of the Russian Revolution carefully isolated shots 
of tanks and soldiers marching with fixed bayonets; 
the obvious intention being to arouse hatred of any 
nation that displays the efficiency of West Point — 
in this case to add the Red Menace to the Yellow 
Peril. In such manner confusion is spread amongst the 
workers. "The camera cannot lie!" — What cynical 
farceur first uttered that unqualified phrase! The 
purveyors of news-reel rubbish, like their brethren 
of the subsidized press, know the values of evasion 
and omission, has to separate or conjoin items to 
achieve implicit lies. 

Even if there were not a deliberate campaign of 
misrepresentation, a further capitalist safeguard ex- 
ists in the carefully nurtured reactionary mentality 
of motion-picture editors, or subserviance imposed 
on them by economic necessity (and this is true of 
the entire industry, wherein numerous able creative 
artists permit themselves to be mentally throttled in 
return for the weekly stipend). 

Finally comes the censorship, official in some in- 
stances, and unofficial in the case of the National 
Board of Review, which has, through its representa- 
tion of chambers of commerce, women's clubs, and 
reactionaries of all kinds, far-reaching influence on 
bookings by theater owners whenever occasion de- 

A commentator on news-reel censorship declares: 

"Scenes of strike riots were ordered eliminated 
from news reels in one state at the time its 
newspapers were using photographs of the exact 
incidents recorded in the films. Another board, 
upset by the appearance in a picture of an em- 
ployer who did not use safety devices to pro- 
tect his employees, ordered insertion of a title 
reading: 'Henry Jones, a type of employer now 
happily extinct, who does not believe in safety 
devices.' "< 2 > 
And further: 

". . . The most telling count against the 
censors is that they have deliberately suppressed 
news or altered its import by cutting out pro- 
portions. In one instance, the statement of a 
Presidential candidate was cut; in another, sec- 
tions of a news picture which showed banners 
inscribed with sentiments adverse to another 
Presidential candidate were deleted. But the 
most notorious instance is perhaps the cutting 
out by the Pennsylvania censors of pictures and 
captions dealing with the coal strike." (3) 
Thus evasion of certain subjects would seem to 
be justified by external pressure and public demand. 
This is a half-truth — a typical capitalistic con- 
tradiction. Evidence: It is precisely the current or 
capitalistic system of education and propaganda (in 
which films as a whole join the radio, the press, the 
school, the pulpit) that perpetuates superstition and 
bigotry, race-hatred and sectional bias, as a matter 
of self-protection and on the basis of "divide and 

(2) "Censorship of the Theater and Motion Pic- 
tures" Beman; p. 199. 

conquer." Trace the ownership and control of the 
motion picture industry to its source, and one finds 
. . . bankers, industrialists, property owners, coupon- 
clippers. And what should their mission be, but to 
protect their own interests? — to convert a cultural, 
educational medium into serving those interests! 
Therefore news-reel content becomes an insipid 
rehash, carefully loaded with capitalist propaganda. 
Particularly so, now that the deepening crisis focuses 
attention sharply upon evidence of the failure of the 
capitalist system to provide even a modicum of 
security for millions of workers. The stringent need 
of these asses for clarity in their intense struggle 
of class against class finds no response, but rather 
deliberate confusion, in the world of moving images 
supposedly reflecting the dramatic happenings of life. 
This signifies the cultural bankruptcy of the Holly- 
wood outlook, which resorts to cowardly apologetics 
on the basis of a supposed "mass content" that was 
long ago shattered by the impact of destitution. 

Can the rising demand for truth and understand- 
ing on the part of the workers be met by news- 
reels? Yes, but not by Hollywood's vendors of lies 
and drugs. They have the technique but not the 
freedom to use a simple effect — sound over image 
— to accomplish a dialectic result. For example: 

(1) During the speech of the President on the 
necessity for "preserving the sanctity of the insti- 
tution of marriage and the home" ... we cut in 
shots: of unemployed workers and their families 
being evicted . . . pauper suicides lying in morgues 
... a homeless veteran picking over garbage . . . 
then back to the sonorous phrases of stupidity and 
reaction in the face of social decay. 

(2) During the speech of a militarist spreading 
war propaganda and advocating bigger and better 
and more destructive war machines . . . we cut in 
library shots: of putrid corpses strewn like garbage 
on a battlefield . . . millions of wooden crosses in 
the various national cemeteries of the war dead . . . 
maimed and tubercular and shell-shocked survivors 
of the war — the living dead! . . . the gas and 
bayonet attack on the Bonus Army at Anacostia 
— new cannon fodder being used against the old and 
outworn . . . then back to the war-monger, whose 
kind are preparing more terror and destruction for 
the world's workers. 

( 3 ) During a demagogue's speech begging faith 
in banking institutions and urging the destitute 
workers to "stop hoarding" ... we portray victims 
at one of the many bankrupt financial institutions, 
showing fabulous resources "gilded" on plate glass 
windows . . . well-known bankers at play, yacht- 
ing, departing for Europe and testifying at Wash- 
ington with brazen assurance that the bankers must 
be served first . . . workless workers on the bread 
lines . . . then back to the lying economist, whose 
dull phrase suggest the sound of a drone, a parasite. 

(4) During the vote-catching plea of a politi- 
cian who invokes the Constitntition and declares 
that prohibition and debt moratorium are the root 
of all economic and social evil ... we cut in shots 
of destitute workers in all countries under capitalist 

< 3 > Ibid. p. 213. 


rule, irrespective of prohibition or national debts 
... a quotation from the constitution: "All men are 
created equal" . . . followed by shots of negroes 
being beaten and shot by hired thugs ... a negro 
strung to a tree, naked and sexually mutilated, 
with embers of a fire beneath him . . . police slug- 
ging unemployed workers whose banners demand 
government aid . . . another title: "Life, Liberty, 
and the Pursuit of Happiness." . . . then back to 
the mental flag-waving of the candidate for office 
in the service of the capitalist class. 

It is not for lack of stirring material that the 
news-reel suffers. There is vitality enough in mass 
struggles being waged constantly in farm and in- 

dustrial areas; drama enough in bank-runs and 
evictions, horror enough in the morgues, prisons, 
Hoovervilles and jungles. It is left, however, to the 
numerous workers' film and photo leagues to 
photograph the real essence of the crisis; to struggle 
on with inadequate equipment, in spite of confis- 
cation of their cameras and film, in spite of police 

Hollywood news-reels seek innocuous subjects. 
Only in direct propaganda do they display vitality 
— for war preparations, to exalt the exploiters, to 
spread lies. They are a definite source of menace, 
under capitalist control, to the further cultural 
progress of humanity. 


L. J. 

WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD: A photostat of 
Road to Life. It needed a Stroheim with a Marxian 

MORNING GLORY: Neither flicker, movie, nor 
cinema, Katherine Hepburn in a pre-Raphaelite cameo. 

POWER AND GLORY: Carefully photographed 
rehash of nickelodeon 24 sheet. Called Narratage 
but remember Barnum. 

I LOVED THAT WOMAN: But this reviewer 
didn't. Attempts by art director Menzies to inject 
"Montage" in a flicker for sophisticates. Chaotic 
and foolish. 

PAROLE GIRL: A subtle education in revenge. A 
pulp, devastating to children and exposing the rot- 
teness in a class society. 

SONG OF SONGS: A Shakespearian stock com- 
pany dressed in their Sunday best for graduation 
pictures. An album, Deitrich, Mamoulian and a 
statue in the nude. 

TUGBOAT ANNIE. Mervyn Le Roy reveals his 
scrap-book of tintypes. Beery, Dressier and a tug- 
boat as three musketeers of bathos. 

HELL BELOW: A dangerous advertisement for 
the unsuspecting. It sells the "glory" of Capitalist 
war and preaches the "honor" in store for patriotic 

THIS DAY AND AGE: De Milk unfurls the 
banner for Fascism. He had one eye on the German 
film M and the other on tabloid headlines. Why 
did he give up his bathtub studies? 

WORKINGMAN: A capitalist made human; a 
phenomenon only possible in the movies. Insidious 
and treacherous especially because of Arliss' per- 

MAMA LOVES PAPA: The bourgeoisie attempts 
to laugh at itself. Funny-paper Mr. and Mrs. Super- 
ficial, except for a moment when city corruption is 

STRANGER'S RETURN: Is this America's "white 
hope" director? Hasn't Vidor heard of the two mil- 
lion starving, striking farmers? Has he ever seen 
a farmer? Lionel Barrymore sulks. Miriam Hopkins 
squints. Vidor struts his incompetence. 


Unimaginative choreographic ally, stilted musically, 
a rummage sale of shot and sound. If the instru- 
ments of cinema can be used imaginatively at all, 
certainly in musical comedies and revues there is a 
golden opportunity. Are all producers and directors 

HENRY THE EIGHTH: At last an English film 
that is competently photographed. Laughton dresses 
like Jannings and belches. And on the screen a 
belch suddenly becomes funny. (So the bourgeoisie 

LITTLE GIANT: A one time Little Caesar sans 
uniform, sans sense. 

PATRIOTS: A lesson in technique for directors. 
A fine expose of bigotry and jingoism. 

BOWERY: Unseen are the hungry derelicts in this 
section, wandering workers, homeless, products of a 
ruthless capitalism. We are shown beer barons and 
gangsters enjoying privileges with women and poli- 
ticians. Hollywood knows what it is doing when 
it attempts to keep reality from the masses and 
gives them instead "entertainment" — by — escape to 
the past. 



Moscow Overtakes And Surpasses 

The history of film inevitably reflects the 
course of economic history. Before the crisis over- 
took the world (excepting only the USSR), most 
of the successful artistic brains were bought by 
Hollywood, but not all. Outstanding are those of 
Reinhardt and Eisenstein who went but did not suc- 
cumb to cheap commercialism. 

Now the cadre has changed with the economic 
movement. Eisenstein who has just returned from 
Mexico finds Moscow crowded with old acquaint- 
ances: Erwin Piscator, Hans Richter, Karl Junghans, 
Hans Eisler, Bela Belaz, and Joris Ivens. Men who 
have come to the Soviet Union for the opposite reason 
to that of those who go to Hollywood (in fact they 
would not be considered "successful" in their own 
countries) are here to express an idea and a purpose 
in film art practically impossible in any other 

Here is Piscator, who has so often come under 
the censor's repression in Berlin, in Odessa has made 
a sound-film of The Revolt of the Fishermen from 
the book of Anna Segars. . . . Hans Richter (who 
along with Ernest Toller, George Grosse, John 
Heartfield) has developed from abstract expression- 
ism of form to concrete expression of revolutionary 
content. He has produced a sound-film Metal about 
the great Berlin metal strike last year. Pearl At- 
tasheva collaborated with him in writing the 
scenario which is based on the actual documentary 
material. . . . Karl Junghans, who made a film of 
proletarian life in Berlin directed Black and White, 
deling with the great problem of the relationship of 
negroes and whites in the class struggle in the United 
States. The whole scenario was based on historical 
material and shows the contrast of negro life and 
labour in America and the thriving negro collectives, 
farms, and colonies in the South of the Soviet 

Hans Eisler, Berthold Brecht, and Slaton Dudov 
came to Moscow with a copy of their collective 
work, Rule Vampe, the first important German 
proletarian sound-film, which has been suppressed by 
the Berlin censor. It deals with a group of un- 
employed workers who through the crisis are forced 
to the last degree of poverty and live in self-made 
huts on the edge of the town. There they dig a great 
grave and put up the epitaph "Here lies buried our 
last hope of ever getting work". Brecht who wrote 
the script is the author of the scenario for The 
Beggars' Opera satire brought up-to-date. In Ger- 
many he is well known as a revolutionary dramatist 
and poet. Hans Eisler, composer of revolutionary 
music and mass songs, wrote the music for Rule 
Vampe including two well-known proletarian 
songs, "The Song of the Out-of-Work" and "The 
Peasant's Revolution". Dudov is a young regisseur 

who worked in the proletarian theatre with Brecht. 

Joris Ivens of Holland, well known as a leading 
documentalist, maker of Bridge, Rain, Zuyder 
Zee, etc., after making a sound film Phillis Radio was 
invited by Meschrabpom Studios to make a docu- 
mentary sound-film of Soviet Youth. 

Youth. Red youth. A great seam running through 
all the strata of activity in this huge continent of 
nations. From European Russia to Oriental Asia, 
from Arctic Siberia to Tropic Tadjekistan. All part 
of the plan. The Five Year Plan in Four, of Socialist 

Such material, such themes, such inspiration has 
never before in history been offered to art, to artists. 
And here we are in Moscow with the job of taking 
some of this dynamic stuff and weaving it into a 
work of art. There's so much of it. Colossal. We 
discussed the question with the leading youth or- 
ganisations, read all the literature we could, talked 
to the men who had been there, saw the pictures 
that had been painted and the films that had been 
shot. Then we made a plan. We would choose the 
two great fronts of the Plan: metal and coal. Here 
was a great youth organisation, mighty construction 
and production, a vortex of old and new, East and 
West, peasant and worker . . . building the Plan. 

On the map two names stand out in great red 
letters: Magnitogorsk, Ruzbass. Magnitogorsk, on the 
borders of the Urals, Kazakstan, and Central Siberia. 
Here, by mountains of iron-ore is being built the 
greatest metallurgical plant in the world, unique in 
the socialist sense of being a complete co-operative 
combine from blasting the ore to making products 
from steel. The one important raw material not 
found on the spot is coal, and that is supplied 
from Kuzbass. Here in Western Siberia are the 
greatest coal fields in the world. 

These were to be our objects together with Mos- 
cow as the centre! 

It took us four days to get to Magnitogorsk. At 
first glimpse it's like the Wild West of our early 
film days, with buggies and horse-riders, rough roads, 
a shack for a station, barracks to live in, and a 
wooden store main street. But you haven't got far 
on the rough ride up the hill when the mighty pan- 
orama of construction is revealed. Colossal iron 
edifices, strange looking pipe lines of enormous dia- 
meter, rows of huge chimney stacks, a maze of 
railway lines, countless buildings, wood, brick, iron, 
concrete, masses of workers, and through it all a 
deep vibrating hum of sound, which on coming 
nearer grows to a roar of noise. Metal-flow, steam 
valves, compressed air blasts, pneumatic hammers, 
electric welders, cranes, winches, excavators, trains, 
conveyors, working full speed, night and day . . . 
and two years ago this was a deserted steppe! 


Here all-singing, all-talking, was a giant of the 
Five Year Plan. And out of this apparent chaos of 
sight and sound we made a composition, with the 
leit motif of Youth. For practically half of the peo- 
ple working here are young. Of all nationalities, 
Russian, Ukraine, Bashkir, Tartar, Khirghiz, Sibe- 
rian, etc. Here under the leadership of the Com- 
munist Party is seen the emergence from the old na- 
tional separateness and backwardness into working- 
class unity. The peasant masters technique. And in 
thus changing nature, man changes human nature. 

A part of our picture shows the construction of 
the second blast-furnace proudly called "Komso- 
molskaya", because the Young Communist League 
took charge of its building from beginning to end. 

Youth under 2 5 years of age constructs the 
largest blast furnace in the world with productive 
capacity of over one thousand tons of pig-iron a 

And that is not all. Now there has been organized 
a Komsomol shift, in which the whole process from 
blasting the ore on Magnet Mountain, crushing, 
sorting, transporting, loading, burning with coke 
and coal, water and electricity. 

And with the growth of the blast-furnace is 
seen the development of a peasant led from a col- 
lective farm: becoming literate, working as an un- 
skilled laborer, being drawn into the social life by 
the Komsomols, and doing his social work (as every 
citizen of the Soviet is taught and expected to do), 
as a member of the Trade Union which helps in 
administering the works, as a student, as a worker 
in a riveting brigade — a shock-brigadier. We are 
recording the great production noises and sounds, 
the blasting and hammering, the clanging and ring- 
ing, and the myriad echos of construction. We are 
recording speech and song — old and modern, na- 
tional and revolutionary; the songs of the Tartars 
which perhaps were sung thousands of years ago 

when Tartary was an empire; the youthful militant 
songs of Tartar Komsomols; the old national instru- 
ments of the dark Khirghiz. . . . These woven to- 
gether with the special music and songs Hans Eisler 
composed for the film. 

After three months of strenuous shooting in 
Magnitogorsk, particularly difficult because of the 
delicacy of the semi-portable sound-film-apparatus, 
and the roughness of the roads, and tempo of con- 
struction, we are in Western Siberia, in the mining 
district of Kuzbass. Here is sharply seen the contrast 
between old and new, a tiny earth-house on the dirty 
hill-side and the new, clean-looking standard houses 
on the green hill-tops; the little wooden church 
and the great new workers' club now being built. 
Black wooden mine-heads and the white modern 
architecture of the hospital. The Komsomol organisa- 
tion in the mining village of Prokopyevsk is very 
young. A year ago it had 1 5 members and now 
there are 4,400. They are helping to develop the 
second largest coal mine in the world. 

Our film had the honor of being chosen as one of 
the four jubilee pictures from Meshrabpom studios 
for the official celebration of the 15 th anniversary of 
the October Revolution and the last year of the Plan. 
This meant that Komsomol (as our film is pre- 
liminarily called) is in socialist competition with 
Pudovkin's SS. Pyatiletka; Barnet's Outskirts; and 
Betrayer of the Fatherland by Ruector Mutanow. 
All these films were produced by Meshrabpom 
and are sound films with international themes. 

Pudowkin is now working again with his old 
camera-man, Golovnya, with whom he made his 
greatest films, one of which, The End of St. 
Petersburg, was a celebration film for the 10th 
year jubilee together with Eisenstein's October. 
These were expressive of the period of revolution. 
It will be interesting to see the new kind which 
must come out of the period of reconstruction. 




"One of the relief bureaus gave a family a food order 
containing, among other things, a chicken. That night the 
investigator visited a local movie and to his surprise saw the 
recipient of the food order seated ahead of him with his 
family. Upon investigation, it was disclosed that the afore- 
said family had traded in the chicken for a cheaper cut of 
meat and with the balance added to what they had had 
celebrated by seeing a cinema. 

"Here is tragedy to me. The bureau decided that such a 
family was not worthy and took their order away from 
them. What stupidity! If you but sense the desperate need 
for release behind this picture you can see my point." 

— Robert Hartley in New York Times. 



The Kingdom of Cinema 

. . . What is a good film? A theatre-manager re- 
cently stated, "A good film is a film that makes 
money": the condemnation of the present day cin- 
ema is contained in that answer. With the exception 
of a few visionaries all those who live on the cinema 
think as this theatre-manager. Money-making is not 
an enterprise in which one can be choosey about the 
means he employs: all means are admissible for 
those who seek commercial success, even if that suc- 
cess is to come through the mistreatment of the 

But, it will be asked, cannot this public exercise 
its controlling rights? Will it cheerfully accept the 
merchandise that is foisted on it? If so, everybody 
is happy, all discussion is futile. 

Not yet. Cinema action is not theatre action, and 
the State pointed out this difference by establishing 
a film censorship that it does not yet dare apply to 
the stage. To justify this arbitrary measure, the 
State mentions the vast influence of the cinema 
on the broadest masses. But if the cinema so power- 
fully influences its millions of spectators, can we 
accept that this power be given into the hands of a 
few financial groups who thus have the right to 
stupify the public mind if their monetary profits 
justify their doing so? The public is a child, always 
ready to accept that which entertains him: at times 
an excellent achievement at others an assininity. Since 
nothing has ever been done to awaken and develop 
the critical sense of this great docile mass, how can 
it be expected to defend itself against the degenerat- 
ing enjoyment meted out to it by so many factory- 
manufactured productions that follow the basest 
of patterns? When we hear it said: "What else do 
you want us to do? We give the public what they 

want ", we feel that this excuse condemns 

the part played by those very people who hide behind 
it. We do not seek the reign of a moralizing or in- 
tellectual cinema, but we do demand that the cinema 
be worthy of the responsibilities incurred by its 
great power. Why is there not a censorship against 
stupidity, just as there are defensive measures 
against the sale of absinthe and narcotics? Does 
the mind of a people have less importance than the 
health of its body? That is not what our political 
harangues full of innocuous idealism teach us. 

The question that comes up here does not concern 
only the cinema. Radio, television, and all new forms 
of expression that technique may give us, will find 
themselves facing the same problems. Will these 
enormous forces be left at the disposal of whoso- 
ever has enough capital to grab them up? The free- 
dom given in such instances to private initiative 
is a caricature of freedom: it results in imposing the 
dictatorship of a few restricted financial or in- 
dustrial groups over a domain which is not solely 
material. Possibly the economic and political system 

which rules us at present does not permit envisaging 
any other solutions: in that case, it means that the 
system no longer corresponds to the needs of our 
time and will have to be changed. Outside of Soviet 
production, the organization and goals of which 
are not the same as in capitalistic countries, it can 
be said that the entire cinema is paralyzed by the 
concentration of the means of production in the 
hands of a few large firms. 

In the name of financial principles and for fear 
of taking a loss in capital, the businessmen at the 
cinema's helm are turning down the enormous 
wealth which they could gain from utilizing youth- 
ful intelligences if they only extended their con- 
fidence to them. We care little, no doubt, whether 
or not the industrialists overlook a chance of mak- 
ing further profits, but, since these profits are the 
only reason for their interest in the industry, this 
neglect appears to us as the sign of a very pro- 
nounced incompetence. They should not, after all, 
forget that it was through new methods, brought 
in by new men — Mack Sennett, Ince, Griffith, 
Chaplin and a few others, — that the American 
cinema, between 1913 and 1917, succeeded in gain- 
ing over the entire world market the supremacy 
it was so long to maintain. 

Today, the system installed by the business men 
and their orderlies has made it just about impossible 
for any genius or budding talent to come to the 
fore. The system represents the most perfect organi- 
zation of defense against all unknown forces which 
might revive the declining cinema. 

Can the present regime be modified? Is there any 
hope of seeing the cinema regain its youthful 
inspiration, the fertile genius which fired its heroic 
age? This is not impossible. The world crisis is bear- 
ing down hard on the great concerns. Perhaps to- 
morrow they will no longer have credit sufficient 
to permit exercising their monopoly on a product 
which demands such vast investments. If so, stan- 
dardized production, divided up between a few trusts, 
will have to give way to the independent enterprise 
of numerous groups. Even today, co-operative pro- 
duction has seen the light in several countries. With 
this method, the film is produced by the combined 
efforts of the artisans whose different talents are use- 
ful to the collaboration; in these undertakings, the 
supervisors and other headmen of the industrial cin- 
ema no longer have the right to exercise their tyran- 
nical say. These films can therefore be conceived and 
executed with more freedom than those produced 
under the blind discipline of the great companies. 
All these new films will not be good films, it is ob- 
vious; no system can by itself create talent. But men 
of talent will, through this means, find a chance to 
show themselves, and to show to the cinema itself 
achievements worthy of it and of its vast audience. 




Fifteen years ago, Kino-Gazetta, the organ of the 
Russian motion picture industrialists protested edi- 
torially "against the grave consequences that will 
result from the government's seizure of the cinema. 
Cinema art will be killed, barter and speculation 
will replace pure art." 

These producer-owners were not alone in their 
gloom. Many directors and actors, too, saw no 
perspectives for the cinema. 

That was fifteen years ago. 

Last October, Edmund Epardo writing in the 
French magazine Cinema said, "Moscow with its 
fervent belief, with its incomparable humanism, 
with its pride in its creations . . . broke the old 
decalogue and replaced it with commandments more 
befitting this newly born giant. ... In sharp contrast 
to our disillusionment and satiety the Soviet cinema 
brings an atmosphere of rough frankness and un- 
tamable will power. 

"Above all the Soviet cinema gives us the taste 
of thought, poetry and symbol that we have al- 
most forgotten." 

During these fifteen years Soviet cinematography 
has not always been victorious. It has been a road 
of defeats too, of painful searches and reflections, 
of unsuccessful experiments. 

To trace this road, record the principal changes, 
schools and directions in the last fifteen years of 
Soviet cinematography, is the task we have set our- 
selves in this survey. 

The films exhibited in the Soviet Union from 
1917 to 1925 fall into three classifications; there 
were the motion pictures released before the nation- 
alization of the cinema, these released after the 
nationalization, and foreign films — mostly Amer- 
ican and German. 

This group of foreign films must be considered 
separately. The best of them, the work of such film 
masters as Griffith, Lubitsch, and Chaplin exerted a 
great influence upon the further development of 
the Soviet Cinema. 

The pre-nationalized Russian film was no more 
than a poor imitation of the Italian and French 
cinema. Its actors were the "Russian" exotics that 
can still be seen, living their "exotic" life in the 
cellars of the "Russian Restaurants" of New York, 
Paris and Berlin. In their products handsome men 
and women, as sleek as thoroughbred horses, loved 
and suffered while glycerine tears flowed down 
their faces and the coals in the fireplaces burned 
low. There was not a trace of thought or of 
psychoanalysis in these pictures. 

The Soviet films of that period were just as help- 
less artistically though their theme was different. 
The theme alone was not enough. Ideologically these 
pictures were barren. 

The theme and ideology of the foreign films were 

integrated and these pictures could be viewed with 
interest. It was evident to the most inexperienced 
and unpretentious spectator that the motion picture 
of the past had to be buried; the spectator demanded 
from the cinema an answer to the questions put 
to him by life. He demanded that the cinema re- 
flect the life surrounding him. It would be wrong, 
of course, to hold this true for all movie-goers at 
that time. There were many who still demanded 
glycerine tears; they had been brought up with 
them, they shed tears, really, for the yesterday lost 
to them and past. Naturally, they preferred those 
of the Soviet films which resembled or were identical 
to the old pictures. And the box office reflected this. 
The technical helplessness of the first Soviet films 
was shocking. We studied the imported foreign pic- 
tures, (Griffith, De Mille, and others) . Studying, we 
must point out, did not simply mean replanting 

The tremendous events of the October revolu- 
tion were by no means over. They had loosed new 
consequences which would follow one upon the 
other. The brilliant glycerine heroes, so well liked 
in the past, did not correspond with the new hero 
who hsd gone through the tough school of war, 
hunger, epidemic and revolution. 

The glowing coals on the hearth were too harsh 
a contrast to the war time campfires, to the villages 
during the civil war, to the fires in blast furnaces 
end factory that had to be fanned into a roaring 

The falseness of the old film was glaringly ob- 
vious. It was necessary to change the heroes and the 
locale. This meant a change in theme, a change in 
perspective; the entire artistic-creative base had to 
re-orient itself. 

In 1924 Sergei Eisenstein succeeded in doing this 
in his picture "Strike". This does not meant that 
before that time no one had been preoccupied with 
these problems. It means only that he succeeded 
in correctly formulating that which was still 
obscure and uncrystallized in other minds. 

What had he done? He had replaced the old in- 
dividual hero by a new one — the mass. 

This was inevitable. Strike was not merely a pic- 
ture. It was a philosophic reply to those who held 
that the individual played an exceptional role in 
history. In this film the individual roles were sub- 
ordinated. The living mass, acting in the tempo 
and scenes characteristic to Eisenstein, let the audi- 
ence perceive its own power. It allowed them to 
participate in the action unrolling before them, — 
not as separate individuals, but as individuals power- 
ful because of their relationship to the thousands 
thousand-like individuals. It was a poem of the 
masses. Through it the audience could sense the 
power of the class, could personally resent its con- 



(Upper left) — AMERICAN MADNESS 

(Columbia) : Soft-soap for bank deposi- 

(Upper Right) — WILD BOYS OF THE 
ROAD (Warner Bros.) : Three hundred 
thousand homeless boys in the U. S. A., 
chased from town to town. 

ROUND (MGM) : Baloney for Bonus- 

A CHAIN GANG (Warner Bros) : South- 
ern hospitality for the unemployed. 

quest. It answered the question, too, whom and 
what does art serve? 

That which had remained incomplete in Strike, 
Eisenstein completed in his next picture, The Ar- 
moured Cruiser Potemkin. A new road had been 
found, new possibilities and new horizons loomed 
up — but a new individual hero, reflecting the new 
values still to be created. The mass hero helped per- 
ceive the class, it expressed the new values. But 
that was not enough. It was abstract. At this time 
Pudovkin released The End of St. Petersburg. Later, 
we had Ermler's A Fragment of an Empire, Pudov- 
kin's Mother, Trauberg and Kosintzev's New 

These directors used Eisenstein's method in show- 
ing the mass, but, beyond Eisenstein, they attempted 
to recreate the individual in his complex and diverse 

Still among these pictures, among all the films of 
that period, there was not one great film that dealt 
with current problems of life. There were some such 
films but they were mediocre, or they possessed no 
plot or story. For example The Sixth Part of the 
World, by Dziga Vertoff who headed the cinema 
school "Kinoki". 

The attention of the directors was fixed upon 
the recent past, the turmoil and grandeur of the 
revolution and civil war. The directors were in yes- 
terday's grip and they found it hard to tear them- 
selves away. In literature mature work had already 
appeared that dealt with current life. The drama 
had produced so great a play as Afinogenov's 
Queer. Only cinema still lagged behind life. 

Various attempts by cinematographists to depict 
these turbulent days showed that life had become 
so complex, that their knowledge was insufficient. 
They failed to understand the new man, failed to 
understand the new processes unfolding before their 
eyes, failed to disclose correctly and profoundly the 
significance of various phenomena. Because of this 
the directors substituted human schemes for real 
live people, the generalization took the place of the 
complex man, the naive poster figure and effigy 
alone were projected on screen. 

This was a period of painful searches, of artistic 
failures; it required a complete reconsideration of 
the Weltanschauung. They had to shed their ac- 
customed views, discard those elements incorrectly 
perceived. They had to catch up with the life that 
was fast leaving them behind. Naturally, this pro- 
cess had to be painful. 

Many cinematographists tried to overlook the 
maturing artistic tastes and demands of the spec- 
tator. Not knowing how to give a genuine artistic 
reply, the directors presented, instead, barren life- 
less formulas and symbols. 

The tendency at the time, was to put into one 
picture the many complex facets of life. This ten- 
dency was foredoomed to failure. The directors were 
afraid they might leave out or forget a detail, there- 
fore they left out what mattered. One could not 
see the forest because of the trees. 

Motion pictures became boring. On all sides one 
heard of a crisis in Soviet cinematography, of searches 
that led into a blind alley. 

In 1929-30 the first experiments with sound pic- 
tures began. The problems that faced the Soviet 
studios became even more complex. On the one hand, 
it was necessary to create again a particularized 
human being, to penetrate beyond the generalization, 
beyond the schematic delineation of character; on 
the other to acquire the elements of a new tech- 

The Soviet cinema had neither knowledge nor ex- 
perience. It was necessary in the shortest possible 
time to bridge the gap between sound technique in 
the United States and the U.S.S.R. 

The problem the directors set for themselves was 
the creation of a sound organically wed to the cin- 
ema, integrated to the action and not merely a sound 
accompaniment. Besides, it was necessary to create 
a sound technique that would make the Soviet 
studios independent of the foreign technical firms 
and their copyrights. 

The problem of technique was solved by the 
engineers Shorin and Tager who created a motion 
picture sound system. After a series of experiments 
the cameras were fit for exploitation and every five 
or six months, new improved models were issued on 
the basis of further experimental work in the 
studios. This problem has been solved. Technically, 
Soviet sound pictures have caught up with those 
of Europe, they remain inferior only to the Amer- 
ican sound studios. 

The appearance of sound in the cinema could only 
intensify the influence of the theatre on the motion 
picture. For a time the cinema again was subject 
to infantile ailments. Theatricalism ran rampant. 
Lack of experience and the uselessness of the old 
habit deprived the directors for a time of their 
routine system of work. Suddenly the pictures 
slowed down in tempo; they became nothing more 
than photographed theatre, differing only insofar as 
they presented many scenes instead of the compact 
acts of the drama. 

The young director, Marcharet, in Men and Jobs, 
one of the most recent of the Soviet talking pictures, 
has succeeded in solving most of these problems. 
He has utilized sound as an organic part of his 
picture; he has left the theatrical far behind and 
approached very closely to the depiction of the new, 
particularized, human hero. This new hero is no 
longer Eisenstein's masses; he is as a matter of 
course an inseparable part of the masses, a drop 
in the human ocean, but a drop not of a mechani- 
cal, schematic nature. His characters live with all 
their contradictions; they are no longer naive ef- 
figies of virtue or vice. You can have discussions 
about these characters, you can like or dislike them; 
involuntarily you are forced to think about these 
images, to try to plumb them. 

Later, Enthusiasm appeared. Here, even to a 
greater extent, maturely at last, and set in a con- 
temporary background, we come upon a refined, 
particularized and subtle characterization that is 
far removed from the poster character. Values have 
been re-evaluated and now we are ready for hu- 
manized expression. 


L. J. 

Review of Arnh 

eim s 





Were this book to begin with the statement it 
ends on, — "The future of the film depends on the 
future of economics and politics, what will happen 
to the film depends upon what happens to ourselves," 
— Arnheim might have developed his treatise into 
a definition of historical importance. As it stands 
however, the book "Film" is an encyclopedia of 
film theory. As such, it is a handbook for the lay- 
man and beginning film practitioner. For the 
seasoned film experimenter and theoretician Arn- 
heim's book is merely an excursion into the 
past. For the student who considers the film as 
a reflection of a particular society which refers 
back to the conditions of that society for its (the 
film's) sources and standards of existence, Arnheim's 
book has nothing but contempt, as expressed in 
these words: "It is certainly a mistake to consider 
that the high quality of Soviet films is attributable 
to the new material which the revolution opened 
up to them. On the contrary, it is being proved 
more and more clearly that the Soviet doctrinaire 
insistence upon revolutionary subjects tends to im- 
pede the sincerity, the consistency and the vividness 
of even the best films." 

Such flimsy statements as: "We are not now con- 
sidering the cultural or political content but only 
the artistic" — or such malicious distortion of con- 
text as "The public became just as weary of barges, 
of dirty back street dwellings, and wretched pubs 
as of handsome guardsmen and country mansions; 
and it learnt more of real life from a silly American 
society comedy than from a dozen proletarian films 
which with plenty of good will, but without much 
discrimination showed life as it is!" — indicate sum- 

FILM by Rudolf Arnheim. Faber and Faber, London, $6.00 

ciently Arnheim's ignorance of reality, and his ivory 
tower approach to film esthetics. 

The contemporary "plastic" criticism of painting, 
divorced from any social or class forces has been 
prevalent thruout the bourgeois world. This evasion 
of the problem and distortion of the facts are of 
necessity allies to bourgeois society in their class 
fight. It has been a simple matter for the bourgeoisie 
to control the art of painting. Artists were en- 
couraged in their individualism so long as it did 
not rebuke the class that patronized them. Of 
course sporadic attempts on the part of the more 
violent ones — Michael Angelo, Goya, Breugel, Dau- 
mier and others, could easily be extinguished, since 
they operated as individuals and not as a class. 

With the movie, because of its greater influence 
and the collective nature of its media, its substantial 
role in a society is much more apparent. Bourgeois 
critics can no longer dispose of it with mere "plastic" 
considerations. Its cultural, intellectual, and emo- 
tional progress is inseparable from its class character. 
And to understand its art one must understand its 
class. Further, one must understand its role in the 
class conflict, or having failed to indicate its social 
roots, one must of necessity fail to interpret its 
artistic undulations. 

To say that Arnheim is a "dispassionate" critic 
is to say that he is a reactionary one. As economic 
and social conditions become more acute, as the divi- 
sion of the classes becomes ever sharper, the movie 
and its criticism comes into the open as a dominant 
force in the struggle. 

* Italics by the reviewer. 

requests your co-operation in the campaign to save the negative of "QUE VIVA MEXICO!" 



Write in for literature exposing this crime — the most destructive tragedy in the history of films! 



Room 610, 545 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 1625 N. Vine Street, Hollywood, California 





It is often remarked that cinema is an art un- 
ique. Commonly the reason is found in its tech- 
nique, involving as it does collaboration to a 
greater or less extent, as well as a degree of reality 
which for many people effectually debars cinema 
from becoming an art at all; occasionally someone 
sees beneath this the essentially dual role which 
cinema, far more than literature, must play. 

It has always been characteristic — unfortunate- 
ly, if you wish — of the genius of English-speaking 
peoples to mingle art with other affairs of life, with 
the consequence that their only artists of the first 
rank are poets. It is difficult for us to understand 
the Latin or the Teutonic ability to make something 
out of mere patterns in light or sound, and, what is 
stranger, apply them in the business of life. We 
incline to the heresy that art is the better for as- 
sociating with man, improving his daily life, rather 
than providing on state occasions the opportunity 
for creating or absorbing particular attempts to 
reach an absolute Idea. Herein, of course, we are 
deficient, but we must know this if we are to criti- 
cise cinema, for, like the other formal arts, it is 
based upon a direct impression made on the senses. 

On the other hand, cinema is, unlike all other 
arts, a medium of intelligent communication. To a 
minor degree in the ordinary newsreel or educational 
film, eminently in montage, it is a language, an 
undreamed-of successor to the ancient hieroglyphics. 
Never before, with perhaps the slight exception of 
Oriental calligraphy, has there been an art to com- 
bine such opposites. It is scarcely surprising that 
the two rarely receive their due together. 

Generally formal cinema has been the one to 
suffer. With no little show of reason it has been 
demonstrated that dependence upon the sensory im- 
pressions of the film leads to nothing. It has been 
considered impossible, by artists and laymen alike, 
to express feelings of a high order in nothing more 
than a moving photograph. And the futile, if amus- 
ing, romps of so many experimenters do much to 
confirm this opinion. They are seldom prepared to 
defend their work against criticism, for they have 
not taken it seriously, and their best efforts exhibit 
a virtuosity and a lack of conviction that in them- 
selves almost persuade one of the barrenness of this 

Formal cinema, however, remains. It has had its 
serious-minded workers, its moments of intuition, 
and it demands aside from this the utmost attention 
as a theoretical case. Barring actual achievement, the 
medium requires a sensuous expression. If there were 
no such expression, we might say, it would be 
necessary predict one. Whatever the common result, 
cinema is in its origin a medium of moving light 
and shade. The reality of most films is impressive, but 

it is purely an effect, and its dispensability is clear- 
ly evident in the slightest attempt at pictorial im- 
pressionism, or symbolism. It is perhaps analogous 
to the lifelike realism of last century painters and 
sculptors, or to "tuneful" music, except that its 
proper basis is more difficut to discern. One can, 
without advocating the strict "functionalism" of 
an Eggeling, reasonably ask for some recognition 
of the two-dimensional, monochrome character of 
the screen. 

In stricter terms, we may define cinema as the 
observed motion of light and shade on a limited 
plane surface. It combines primary elements in a 
wholly new order. It is dangerous, of course, to 
found aesthetic judgments upon physical data; 
nevertheless it is possible to say that cinema sup- 
plies the one missing order. Of the two higher 
senses — sight and hearing — the latter is served 
by music both statically, as in the East, and dyami- 
cally, as in our own age, while there has been de- 
veloped a plethora of arts based on visual form 
or design. It only remained to discover an art ap- 
pealing to the eye through motion. — motion, that 
is, conventionalized in a definite medium. 

There are serious objections to the newly-invented 
cinema as a satisfactory solution of the problem. 
Indeed there is some reason for supposing the prob- 
lem insoluble, a purely theoretical union of elements 
impossible save in a devitalized age of sophistica- 
tion and mechanical ingenuity. For all that, what- 
ever the validity of a "fourth order", cinema does 
supply one, and as far as we can tell does so legiti- 
mately. It is rigidly restricted, yet it offers almost 
unbounded possibilities for motion in space and 
time. Again and again intelligent critics have 
stressed this point in deploring the customary re- 
liance of commercial and amateur films alike upon 
well-worn dramatic actions or simple documents. It 
is for the future to decide, but it seems fair to as- 
sume that moving values on the screen can have a 
quality comparable to that of similar values in the 
finest musical compositions. 

The single fact of their motion definitely removes 
cinema from competition with the various graphic 
arts. Few people realize the vast difference caused 
by the simple incident of motion. The photograph is 
still to be judged by the canons of painting, com- 
position, light, tonality, and because so much is 
determined by external conditions, photography can 
scarcely hope to do better than a romantic impres- 
sion-sm. Let the same photograph be put in motion 
and it subject to a wholly new set of values. For 
the line of the artist is substituted the moving 
light of the artist. It is the distinction between a 
landscape with clouds, and the actual clouds shift- 
ing against the sky. A more pointed illustration is 
an ordinary fire. Painters, with rare exceptions, have 


passed it by for the obvious reason that there is 
nothing to paint, it is all motion. Yet there must 
have been some who wished to catch the bright, 
fluid colors of the flames, whose fascination is the 
very opposite of that of the pictures we are told 
to see there. Somewhat as color has come to be 
used in painting as a functional equivalent for line, 
so on a larger scale the brush-made line gives way in 
cinema to the rhythmic ordering of less precise 
masses of light and shade. 

One cannot urge too strongly that this obviates 
dependence upon structural composition of line and 
mass. It is too often thought that the rhythmic, 
dynamic basis of cinema consists in the proper or- 
ganization of pictorially composed images, each in 
some sense flowing into the next. Nothing could be 
more misleading. Such a conception logically forces 
one to trim the motion to suit the composition, 
which is nonsense. To maintain a particular compo- 
sition through a sequence is only to bring the thea- 
ter onto the screen, whether the actual content be 
realistic or highly abstract. Naturally, proper com- 
position of the motion will normally guarantee 
reasonably sound static composition, but it must be 
clearly understood that this will be due not to the 
direct application of the principles of graphic art, 
but to the more general principles of aesthetics in- 
herent in good cinema. Whenever the one is definitely 
violated, the effect of the other will justify the 


In cinema there is not the slightest necessity for 
pictorial completeness. A Turner or a Cezanne as 
well as a Phidias must present a finished design, for 
his success depends upon the immediate aspect of 
his work. The totality of his meaning exists with- 
out reference to the element of time. The cine- 
mist, on the contrary, has to project his meaning 
through a temporal continuity, in which the single 
image, so far from being important, is fundamental- 
ly nonexistant. Although still tied to the physical 
facts of frame and canvas, he is free from respon- 
sibility towards them as graphic materials. Their 
excuse is that a three-dimensional medium (such as 
Edison envisaged, for example) is artistically in- 
conceivable. In this respect the stereotyped products 
of Hollywood are more essentially cinematic than 
some of the films of the painters of avant-garde, 
though to be sure the former's anartistic theatrical 
nature more than cancels this advantage. The image 
that exists only in the mind's eye as an arrested mo- 
ment in a sequence, or as used as a dimly suggestive 
still, has not sufficient consequence to demand at- 
tention as a subject for spatial design. 

Cinema possesses a greater affinity with music. 
Even here, however, the relation is more useful in 
philosophical than in technical discussion. Music 
— Western music, that is — employs likewise tem- 
poral continuity, and the two are thus what might 
be called fourth-dimensional homologues, but they 
are not so similar in actual detail as to merit the 
many comparisons made, and the conclusions that 
have been drawn. 

Music is composed of harmonic units, bearing 

both in quality and quantity exact mathematical 
relations to one another. Involuntarily it possesses a 
beat, which is taken for granted in any musical 
criticism. In cinema there is neither unit nor beat 
for it is only a continuous photograph of nature. 
Of itself, although it exists in time, it does not pos- 
sess the aesthetic quality of time. It is thus futile 
to compare the basic elements of the two for 
rhythm or harmony. It may not be too fanciful to 
suggest that this difference is demonstrated in the 
formerly universal custom of employing music as 
an accompaniment to a film. Just because the film 
itself lacked a definite rhythm, was it possible, and 
commonly preferable, to add to it a tom-tom, as it 
were, to mark the tempo. The underlying reason, 
of course, is that one sense restricts itself to a par- 
ticular, ordered phase of its field, whereas the other 
embraces its entire field. One can no more combine 
pictures of objects in an exact rhythm (excluding 
as before montage) than one can the objects them- 
selves, although the purest abstractions have some 
claim to this closer sort of musical analogy. 

Nevertheless cinema is not a cognate art for 
nothing. If it is dissonant by nature, it can be 
worked into melody by the artist. Upon the material 
of painting he will impose the temper of music, but 
with the purpose of painting — to impress upon the 
physical world an ideal order. Obviously the result 
will be in large part incommensurable with that of 
the musician. Their chief similarity is simply their 
dynamic approach. The aim of both arts is an 
aesthetic expression in time, and on this level the 
two can be profitably compared. Cinema, no less 
than music, may have a fine subtle rhythm, a power- 
ful crescendo, a light-hearted scherzo, or solemn 
processional. For the harmony of notes and scales it 
merely substitutes a harmony of nature drawn up 
in ordered patterns of continuity. This, however, 
introduces the whole question of the real meaning of 
formal cinema. 

If cinema is an aesthetic expression in time, it 
is still true that it is also a visual, and so a plastic 
art. Except in the purest abstract work, it is neces- 
sarily concerned, to some degree, with a representa- 
tion of the physical world. It is, therefore, although 
closely related to neither the fine arts nor music, a 
sort of hybrid of the two, and cuts across the es- 
tablished distinction between them. Heretofore 
there has been either the art of form, expressing 
directly the beauty of nature, or the art of con- 
tinuity, expressing in a more abstract fashion the 
essential rhythm we find in the beauty of nature. 
Quite naturally architecture, the first of the arts, 
is called frozen music: music is the final, free form 
of those principles which begin with the master 
craftsman and builder. They gradually become 
clearer and more explicit through the several stages 
of sculpture (the final form for the Greeks) and 
painting, but in music their expression changes from 
the relatively concrete to the relatively pure and 
abstract. The latter is not necessarily the superior; 
it does form, however, a distinct and separate order. 

Into this tidy classification has come the film. 
A few hoped at first, through the proper composi- 
tion of lines and masses, to attain a visual art sim- 


ilar in character to music. That the abstract film has 
not lived up to expectations is a story only too well 
known. Despite early hopes it seems to have done 
little more than the efforts of the Cubists and others 
in painting and sculpture. It may be illogical, but 
it is a stubborn fact of experience that neither the 
painter nor the cinemist can seek his Idea beyond 
the limits of natural material. Consequently the film 
is thrown back upon this material at the same time 
that it is demanding a musical freedom for its 
quality of motion. The result can only be a com- 
promise. Forced to be too realistic both for a purely 
plastic art and for an abstract art, the film must 
hope to be able to fill up successfully a measure 
of half and half. 

This necessity would seem to point to a per- 
manent equivalent of the dance and of that har- 
monious extension of the dance the Greeks called 
music. The same principle — temporal rhythm of 
natural material — lies at the base of both, and in 
itself is an answer to those who do not admit the 
validity of formal cinema. For always there has 
been an art of "visual music", perhaps before any 
other art, only it has perforce been of transient 
interest; it is but reasonable to assume that the film 
can represent this art in a permanent and therefore 
more flexible form. The difference, however, is con- 
siderable. No plastic form created on a basis of real 
life can involve such a conflict of means as does 
cinema. Its rhythm is a purification rather than a 
sublimation of the rhythm of nature. Nature neces- 
sarily combines the visual with the temporal, the 
concrete with the abstract, but to turn this into a 
strictly formal art is another matter altogether. 
While the conception is simple enough, the execu- 
tion presents a formidable problem, and it is here 
that theory breaks down, leaving the critic to be 
guided by the actual achievement that has gone 


Those films which, irrespective of purpose, may be 
regarded as wholly or in part formal fall naturally 
into three groups. At one extreme is the purely 
absolute film; at the other the sensuous film drama, 
most notably represented by the school of Caligari. 
The borderline between these two is the province 
of the film-poem which, if we may be permitted 
to judge cinema by Aristotelian standards, will be 
the most satisfactory of the three. Whether this 
conclusion is allowable or not, the film-poem has 
much in its favor. I cannot think that the absolute 
film is much superior to the abstract film. It is 
subject to the same criticism — that mere func- 
tional patterns, just as in painting, cannot of them- 
selves suffice. The eye demands a familiar scene in 
visual art, and will not recognize the idea of beauty 
of the artist who does not supply such a scene. No 
amount of theory can dispel our instinctive convic- 
tion that a picture must be a picture of something, 
a statue of something, and similarly a picture of 
some action, and not a congeries of idle shapes and 
objects. Motion for motion's sake is a legitimate 
rule only if it is a motion familiar to us, and which 
we expect to see in a continuity of motion. Ar- 

bitrary motion may please us for a while, but in 
the picturing of movement we look for a representa- 
tion of such movement as we know, the movement 
of life, and we do not readily respond to artificially 
propelled heads, coffins, violins, dice, and the like. 
In short we demand a causality of motion. 

On the other hand, the sensuous film drama is 
too close to reality, and is already chiefly of histori- 
cal importance. The distinction is not always made, 
but by this term I understand narrative which re- 
places the psychological semi-montage of Griffith 
and Pabst by a sensuous background and atmos- 
phere. Caligari, of course, is the prototype (although 
less typical, and closer to Pabst than is generally 
imagined), while Faust is the culmination. Films of 
this sort still appear from time to time, but they 
are obvious throwbacks to the Old German school, 
poignant reminders of what we have lost. The great 
value of the school lies in the fact that it was really 
the final expression of the ancient German culture, 
of the spirit of the Nibelungenlied, Till, Duerer, and 
Faust. It was impossible for this spirit to see beyond 
the pictorial qualities of the screen. It did not and 
could not know the meaning of "cinematic value" 
as an end in itself. In utilizing the film it only 
sought to retell old stories and legends in an ima- 
ginative medieval setting composed for the purpose. 
When Murnau, therefore, in The Last Laugh handed 
over, as it were, the leadership of German cinema to 
Pabst, and revealed in the perfection of Faust that 
the old spirit was dead, there was no one to take 
up where the Germans had left off. Modern cinemists 
are at the beginning rather than the end of a tra- 
dition, and want either some form of montage, or 
formal cinema by way of genuine filmic means and 
not simply a filmic background. The old films can 
always be inspiring for their static qualities, but 
as a technical genre they belong to the past. 

If I have not been too indefinite there should be 
a certain amount of room between the two groups 
I have just mentioned, room for action that is rather 
a pattern in itself than played within a pattern. 
Such cinema will avoid the exaggerated purity of 
the abstractionists and absolutists, as well as the 
impressionistic counterpoint of the Germans. In it 
the elements will be controlled and unified to pro- 
duce an aesthetic whole, which will yet be credible 
and reasonable. Normally it will depict human 
beings, for the same reasons that the best painting 
and sculpture does; normally it will, however, in 
contradistinction to painting and sculpture, be ar- 
tificially or formally composed, although some 
future genius may succeed with sheer naturalism. 
It will, moreover, have space for abstract or ab- 
solute sequences, which may perhaps be compared 
to figures of speech in literature, 
build on practice; it is more important to give 
experimenters a free hand than to try to lay down 
for them laws which must inevitably be superseded. 
It is, however, the critic's privilege to cast ahead 
and indicate the general scope of a subject, as it 
seems to him, and I think it is not too much to 
claim that, of the several divisions of formal cinema, 
that roughly defined by the term film-poem is the 
most likely to be the cinema of the future. 


Proletarian Cinema in Japan 

The proletarian cinema is one of the most back- 
ward sections of Japanese proletarian art. It has not 
yet gone beyond chronicling the worker-peasant 
movement. The first film portrayed the famous 
strike on the soy enterprise in Noda (in 1928). 
Later, pictures were taken of the May 1st celebra- 
tions, in 1929, the funeral of workers in Tokio and 
Kioto during the same year, the large strike of the 
Tokio tramcar workers in 1930, Mayday celebra- 
tions that same year, etc. All these films carry the 
title Chronicle of Proletarian Cinema (Prokino 
News) . Although technically the films are taken 
quite well, the mounting and assembling of the films 
is rather poor. 

The Union of Proletarian Cinema of Japan is 
affiliated to NAPF. It publishes a monthly magazine 
called Proletarian Cinema. The Union has branches 
in Tokio, Kioto, Osaka, Yamanasi, Yamagata, etc. 
Discussions on questions of proletarian cinema and 
on the film itself, are generally organized at the time 
of the demonstration of the film, 
them and dispersing the audience. 

During the first half of the previous year five 
evenings of proletarian cinema were organized in 
Tokio, two in Kioto, while from other cities there 
are no data as yet. A number of portable cinema- 
projectors have been obtained for demonstrations 
of films in villages. 

However, the proletarian cinema, which has ex- 
isted only some two or three years, continues to 

The Union of Proletarian Cinema, having carried 

out its first plan of movie taking, began last autumn 
to carry out its second. The money required for the 
taking of these pictures is obtained by means of 
voluntary deductions from the meagre wages of the 
workers and peasants. By September of last year 
320 yen had already been collected to the account 
of the 1,000 yen required. 

The peasants greeted the arrival of these portable 
movie outfits enthusiastically. They themselves went 
to the police department to obtain a permit for the 
demonstration of films, and voluntarily stood on 
guard at the entrance of the hall. In one of the 
villages, the peasants knowing that the police would 
not grant a permit posted the following announce- 
ment outside the hall: "Here is held an evening of 
prayer for the deceased Aigava — non-members of 
the Peasant Union are not allowed." Instead, three 
films of the Proletarian Cinema were demonstrated. 
They were: Sumigava (the name of a river in a 
workers settlement in Tokio), Collective cultiva- 
tion of land in the village Siodome, and Children. 

On the intiative and under the guidance of the 
Union of Proletarian Cinema, a short-term course 
of proletarian cinema was organized in the begin- 
ning of August 1930. Twenty persons from all parts 
of Japan registered for it. The course, however, had 
barely started when it was disbanded. Only one 
lecture on Cinema and Marxism and half a lecture 
on the Theory and History of the Proletarian Cinema 
Movement v/as delivered to the students. Neverthe- 
less, on the following day the students decided to 
organize a circle for the study of proletarian cinema. 


Continued from Page 13 

Not just one, but many deaths; many skulls, 
skeletons . . . 

What is that? 

That is the Carnival pageant. 

The most original, traditional pageant, "Cala- 
vera," death day. 

This is a remarkable Mexican day, when Mexi- 
cans recall the past and show their contempt of 

The film began with the realm of death. 
With victory of life over death, over the influ- 
ences of the past, the film ends. 

Life brims from under the cardboard skeletons, 
life gushes forth, and death retreats, fades away. 

A gay little Indian carefully removes his death- 
mask and smiles a contagious smile — he imperson- 
ates the new growing Mexico. 



Harry Alan Potamkin 

The American revolutionary movement has lost 
a most skilled and devoted film critic, writer and 
poet with the death of Harry Alan Potamkin, on 
Wednesday afternoon, July 19 th. Potamkin had 
been suffering for the past three years from an ulcer- 
ated abdomen. On June 2 5th he had a hemorrhage 
and was rushed to a hospital. Twenty-six members 
of the John Reed Club, The Workers Film and 
Photo League, and the Daily Worker staff, as well 
as some total strangers volunteered their blood. Only 
four were qualified and some had to give their blood 
several times. Walker Evans, well-known Ameri- 
can photographer who knew Harry Potamkin only 
slightly gave his blood in vain just before Potamkin 

Potamkin was the Executive Secretary of the 
John Reed Club, a member of the National Com- 
mittee of The Film and Photo League, frequent con- 
tributor to the New Masses and the New Pioneer, 
New York correspondent for Close Up and had 
published a series of articles in Hound and Horn, on 
outstanding film directors. The last two in the 
series dealt with the works of Pudovkin and Eisen- 
stein. Because of his devoted and understanding 
service to the cause of the working class he received 
a Red Funeral. This was the first time a non- 
Communist Party member has been given a Red 

His acquaintance with the Soviet film was the 
turning point in his career and led to his entrance 

as an active fighter on the cultural front in the 
revolutionary movement. He was respected for his 
criticism and interpretation of bourgois and Soviet 
films even by writers in the capitalist press. Shelley 
Hamilton of the National Board of Review of Mo- 
tion Pictures, a bourgois film society wrote of Po- 
tamkin, "He had the literary power to express what 
he knew. Moreover, since with all his artistic gifts and 
appreciation, he cared more for human beings than 
he did for art, he stood almost alone among writers 
in his passionate insistence that the great force of 
the motion picture should be used in the broadening 
and strengthening of human understandings and in 
helping build a civilization in which the lives of 
men and women and children would be better worth 
living. As a man and as a writer we can look far 
and near and see no one to take his place." 

Potamkin saw two films before he entered the 
hospital; the butchered version of Eisenstein's Mexi- 
can film of which he said that Eisenstein's name 
should not be used; that it is a "glorified thriller 
with a nationalistic ending" and "Patriots." He 
told me that he considered "Patriots" the most im- 
portant film to have come from the Soviet Union 
in a number of years. Amkino has dedicated the 
film to him. Harry Alan Potamkin is survived 
by his widow, Elizabeth Potamkin, who has donated 
his enormous and valuable film library to the film 
students of the State Institute of Cinema (G. I. K.) 

Still by Samuel Brody. 
Mask by Adolph Wolf. 


Experimental Cinema 
in America 

The Film and Foto League has organized groups 
throughout America making documentaries, work- 
ing-class news reels, and other films of a social 
nature. They have produced several shorts, mounted 
several features and projected Soviet films through- 
out the states. They conduct a school of the motion 
picture called, "Harry Alan Potamkin Film School," 
where technique, production, history and criticism 
are taught. Classes are two nights a week and some 
of the instructors are: David Piatt, Ralph Steiner, 
Irving Lerner, Leo Seltzer, Barton Yeager, L. T. 
Hurwitz, Nathan Adler, Joseph Freeman, Joshia 
Kunitz, Samuel Brody and Lewis Jacobs. 

Henwar Rodakiewicz is now in New Mexico 
making a film of Indian life. Working with him 
are Floyd Crosby, cameraman for Marnau's Tabu, 
and Leonie Knoedler, the producer. Rodakewiecz 
has made The Barge, Portrait of the Artist and The 
Face of New England, stills of which are repro- 
duced on another page. 

Watson and Webber whose film Tall of the House 
of Usher, was made several years ago from Poe's 
story, have just completed Lot in Sodom, a modern 
treatment of a biblical story. 

Ralph Steiner, winner of the Photoplay prize 
several years ago with his film H 2 0, has shot docu- 
mentary material on farms and along the water- 
front. Two other films: Gears in Motion and De- 
sign, and Surf and Seaweed, were notable because 
of his feeling for the object. Cafe Universal (ten- 
tative title) was made with the cooperation of the 
Group Theatre. It is now being cut and mounted 
into three reels. It is an anti-war film with stylized 
acting and a specialized use of dialogue. It will 
be ready some time this winter. 

Joseph Schillinger has made several short films to 
illustrate his principles of rhythm in motion. The 
reproduction is from his latest film. The drawings 
for it were made by Mary Ellen Butte and Elias 
Katz. The camera work and animation by Lewis 

Jay Leyda whose Bronx Morning is showing in all 
Film Societies throughout Europe, is now in Mos- 
cow studying at the film university there. 

Jo Berne is an independent director whose Black 
Dawn has been praised by all movie re- 
viewers. It is a story of three people on a farm. 
It is carefully photographed, moves very slowly 
and has only the barest amount of dialogue. There 
is a musical score throughout the four reels by 
Cameron Macpherson, the producer. Seymour Stern, 
one of the editors of Experimental Cinema wrote 
the continuity. 

Lewis Jacobs has made two shorts, Mobile Compo- 
sition and Commercial Medley; also documentaries 
in Scottsboro, Harlan, Atlanta, and Arkansas. He 
has mounted several travelogues and industrial films. 
As I Walk is a two reel documentary of a working- 
class section in New York. Sound is used as 
monologue. For the past two years Jacobs has 
been production manager of a motion picture trailer 

Irving Browning is a New York advertising 
photographer. He has made several advertising films 
and a documentary of New York called City of 
Contrasts. The film is done entirely in multiple ex- 
posures. Stills will be published in the next issue 
of Experimental Cinema. 

Herman Weinberg is a Baltimore film critic. He 
is manager of "The Little Theatre" there. He has 
made two shorts: City Symphony and Autumn Fire. 
He is now planning a third. 

Note: The Editors of EXPERIMENTAL CIN- 
EMA invite film experimenters to write 
about and send stills from their productions. 





(Right) — Cafe Universal: Ralph Steiner 

The Ghost That Never Returns, 

directed by Alexander Room. 
From a scenario by Henri Bar- 
busse dealing with American 
prison life. 



From The Deserter, Pudovkin's recent sound film. 

From The Island of Doom, 

directed by Timoschenko. 


The New Deal in Hollywood 

The strike which recently "ended" in the motion 
picture studios of Hollywood was due to the pro- 
ducers' refusal to deal with the sound technicians, 
although they had agreed to do so in a pact signed 
with the unions in 1926, intended to settle such 
situations. These men, who are highly skilled, were 
working up to twenty hours a day, seven days a 
week, with no additional pay for overtime, at a rate 
of from $2 5 to $60 a week, amid high salaries rang- 
ing from $100 to $5,000 a week. Moreover, they 
had periods of unemployment between pictures 
ranging from one to four weeks. The sound men's 
union finally called a strike. Two days later the 
other crafts went out in sympathy. The producers 
set about immediately tying up a group of camera 
men, the men hardest to replace, with contracts 
calling for fabulous salaries. 

Then the International Brotherhood of Electrical 
Workers, a union which had an agreement with the 
striking unons (I. A. T. S. E.) giving the latter 
exclusive jurisdiction over all electrical workers ac- 
tually employed in the making of pictures, was 
called upon to, and obligingly did, supply strike- 
breakers. The I. B. E. W. then claimed that they 
had jurisdiction over the sound and electrical 
workers. The producers agreed and immediately 
signed a contract with them to supply all their 
future needs. Another union, the United Brother- 
hood of Carpenters, filled the places of the striking 
studio grips (stage hands). 

The strikers found themselves not only in a battle 
with their powerful employers but also with two 
organized unions affiliated with the "great" Ameri- 
can Federation of Labor, which were out to gain 
something for themselves while their fellow-unionists 
were backed against the wall. The strikers appealed 
to the United States government to force the pro- 
ducers to arbitrate. Secretary Perkins sent two fed- 
eral conciliators. The producers refused to see these 
men and evaded any and all arbitration or media- 
tion. Nevertheless, the conciliators recommended 
that the strike be ended and the men taken back 
upon the same terms and without prejudice. Appeals 
to President Green of the A. F. of L. to do something 
about an affiliated union's strike-breaking brought 
only telegrams of condolence which meant nothing. 
The strikers then appealed to the newly created 
National Labor Board of the NRA. Dr. Leo Wol- 
man, its acting chairman, asked Governor Rolph to 
appoint someone to mediate. Timothy Reardon was 
appointed and his recommendations were the same as 
those of the federal conciliators. Evidently these 
rceomendations were lost in transit. 

The strikers were desperate, as they saw that 
nothing was being done and that more camera men 
were being signed by the producers. Judge Ben Lind- 
sey went by plane to Washington. Appeals were 
sent to The Nation and The New Republic. William 

Evans, chief of the Los Angeles headquarters of the 
NRA, also went to Washington to demand im- 
mediate action. After three days of blah the Labor 
Board finally reached its decision. The striking 
workers went mad with joy when Leo Wolman 

The National Board announced yesterday af- 
ternoon the following decision for the settle- 
ment of the motion picture workers' strike in 
California: (1) That strike be called off at the 
suggestion of National Labor Board; (2) that 
employees be taken back without prejudice, 
strikers to be given preference before new em- 
ployees are taken on, and that they may retain 
membership in their organization, it being 
understood that this involves no change in the 
industrial relations policy of the motion pic- 
ture industry; (3) that there be no discrimina- 
tion against membership in any union; (4) 
that jurisdiction questions be settled by the 
A. F. of L. — pending settlement of these juris- 
diction disputes no strikes shall be called; 
that disputes as to the interpretation of this 
agreement shall be decided by the National 
Labor Board and both parties agree to accept 
decision of this board as final and binding. 
The board is assured that all parties will co- 
operate in carrying out this agreement. 
The next morning the men crowded outside the 
studio gates. Just about a hundred men, in most 
cases the highly skilled ones who could not be re- 
placed, were taken back. The rest, close to four 
thousand, were politely told that the jobs were filled 
— by union scabs. But in the future, should there 
be any openings, they would be hired "without 
prejudice," providing they joined the strike-breaking 
unions. The strike overnight became a lockout. The 
men are helpless, as they are bound by the NRA 
Labor Board decision not to strike again. The 
leaders wrote the motion picture producers a very 
polite note reminding them of the NRA decision, 
but they are still waiting for a reply. 

So the "new deal" has come to Hollywood in the 
form of unemployment to men who have loyally 
worked in the studios for many years. The men are 
bitter. Some pace the streets in a daze. Rumblings 
are heard about murder, beatings, and sabotage. In 
one day the homes of two camera men were stoned. 
Several strike-breakers were beaten. What the men 
may do does not take much effort to imagine. The 
producers, though they accepted the decision of the 
NRA, have politely refused to abide by its ruling. 
In the meantime, one of the strongest unions in the 
country is broken in body and spirit; the men are 
locked out as a result of the treachery of a handful 
of camera men, the knavery of two unions, the 
brotherly spirit of the A. F. of L., and the great 
power and influence of the NRA. 



Scotland and Film 

Though Edinburgh, the Capital of Scotland, is 
renowned the world over as an intellectual city, it 
was not until the formation of the Edinburgh Film 
Guild some two years ago that it gave any evidence 
of an intelligent interest in the cinema as an art. 

Since its inception, however, the EFG has had a 
rapidly widening influence, and today numbers 
amongst its most enthusiastic members the Keeper 
of the National Galleries and the Professor of Fine 
Art at the University. The various activities of 
the Guild have probably filled more columns of 
the Edinburgh press than any similar organization, 
and largely as a result of the interest it has aroused, 
the Scotsman, perhaps the most conservative daily 
paper in the world, has commenced a weekly cin- 
ema feature which is a model of its kind, notable 
for its shrewd judgment and a real understanding 
of the function of the cinema both as an art and 
an entertainment. 

Founded in 1930 for "the study and advance- 
ment of film art, by Norman Wilson, a young man 
who has neglected most of his other interests to at- 
tempt to gain for the cinema the recognition its 
importance demands, the EFG originally intended 
to organize and support the first repertory cinema 
in Scotland. At the last moment, unfortunately, 
negotiations with the cinema concerned terminated 
abruptly, and though a makeshift arrangement was 
entered into with another theatre, the scheme proved 
a failure. Oil and water will not mix, and a com- 
mercial company bent on making the largest pos- 
sible profits, and a society formed to show "unusual 
films" — damn the term! — were hardly likely to 
evolve programmes that would give mutual satis- 

After the failure of the repertory venture private 
Sunday performances were resorted to, and during 
the season just finished have been received with 
increasing satisfaction. Fortunately no difficulties 
have been encountered with the magistrates — pos- 
sibly because the word "non-political" was judi- 
ciously incorporated in the constitution. It has 
therefore been possible to show such films as Earth, 
Man With the Movie Camera, Mutter Krausen, 
Westfront, and Crossways. More Russian films 
would probably have been shown had not the Work- 
er's Progressive Film Society been in existence. This 
society showed practically nothing but Soviet films, 
but ultimately had to cease operations owing to 
financial difficulties. It is probable, therefore, that 
the EFG will show more Russian films in its pro- 
grammes next season. 

Apart from its performances, which take place 
in a central first-run theatre, the Guild holds regu- 
lar meetings in its club-room, where there is a 
library of film books and periodicals. These meet- 
ings have been addressed by many notable directors, 
critics, technicians, and speakers famous in other 

spheres of endeavor who have given their views on 
the cinema. 

Norman Wilson has consistently declared that 
no film society can afford to be merely eclectic; if 
it is to justify its existence it must do something 
of practical worth. The Edinburgh Film Guild 
carries out this dictum, for its activities are many 
and varied. It organizes matinees of films specially 
suitable for children; fosters the production of sub- 
standard films, of which it holds periodical exhibi- 
tions in its club-room; and has in hand the pro- 
duction of a documentary film on standard stock 
depicting the everyday life of Edinburgh and its 
people. To find a suitable scenario for this film 
there was arranged a competition, open to all, and 
judged by John Grierson, who gave the award to a 
university student and an Edinburgh journalist. 
Though funds have not yet enabled a start to be 
made with the production of this film, which is 
planned for feature length and will be as much a 
commentary as a documentary, a shorter film of 
the city now being made will soon be cut. 

Early this year the Guild organized an Interna- 
tional Exhibition of Film Stills, which was opened 
by Herbert Read and did much to arouse an in- 
terest in the cinema in artistic circles. Among the 
most outstanding collections in the exhibitions were 
the contributions from Japan, Czechoslovakia, and 
Russia — the last having an entire room devoted to 
its display. The exhibition was also on view in 
Glasgow and in St. Andrews. Arrangements are 
being made to hold next season two further exhi- 
bitions; one devoted wholly to the Soviet cinema, 
with a display of stills, posters, and photographs of 
theatres, studios, etc.; and the other to British films. 

Outside of Edinburgh there is the Film Society 
of Glasgow, which has been in existence for about 
three years and has shown many famous films, in- 
cluding Potemkin, The End of St. Petersburg, Storm 
Over Asia, Drifters, Finis Terrae and Theresa Ra- 
quin. The Glasgow Society's activities mainly con- 
sists of exhibiting such worthwhile films, but I 
understand it intends to open a clubroom and to 
arrange lectures and demonstrations in the future, 
and is at present organizing student groups at the 
University and the College of Art. A new society 
known as the New Art Movement has also recently 
come into being with the object of showing Soviet 
films. In Dundee there was a film society full of 
enthusiasm and good ideas, but it was forced to 
cease operations owing to the interference of the 
local authorities, who took exception to the exhibi- 
tion of Russian films. There is word of a new so- 
ciety being established in the university town of 
St. Andrews, and the recently formed Society for 
Cultural Relations with Soviet Russia in Edinburgh 
announces that it intends to hold cinema perform- 
ances next winter. 














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Razin — First Revolutionist 






BRYANT 9-5107 



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"A Generation of Motion Pictures". This is the 
title of one of the most important documents on 
films that we have ever encountered. The author 
is William H. Short. The publisher is The 
National Committee for Study of Social Values 
in Motion Pictures, located at 1 Madison Avenue, 
New York City. The book is a huge volume, filled 
with a mass of data and facts that conclusively prove 
the failure of the Hays organization to raise the 
American film-industry from the level of a racket 
to that of a cultural medium. 

As a compilation of testimony against Hays, Mr. 
Short's volume is of inestimable value, a master- 
piece of research, denunciation and indictment. As 
a revelation of the true character of the American 
film-industry it is priceless. As an historical survey 
of the hypocrisy, double-dealing and hell-bent in- 
tention of the producers to corrupt the taste and 
standards of the American public, it is richly in- 
formative, enlightening and frequently very amus- 
ing. The citations, the anecdote, incident and store 
of factual data, the protests against innumerable 
American films from every conceivable type of 
organization in the United States during the past 
twenty years, the dirty history of many a big box- 
office "hit" (a history not included in advertise- 
ments, ballyhoo, or books on "movie-entertain- 
ment") — all this, and a great deal more besides, 
makes Mr. Short's work the gold mine of reference 
and source-information that it is. 

Having read this, you may be somewhat disap- 
pointed to learn that this important book is being 

withheld from circulation. It is a jealously guarded 
and as effectively secluded from public gaze as a 
harem beauty in old Arabia. The editors of Experi- 
mental Cinema are not at liberty to say how they 
came to see the book, but it was certainly through 
no fault of the publishers. 

We wrote to the publishers, desiring to purchase 
a copy, but we were told in a friendly, though 
cryptic, reply that "while there is nothing secret 
about the volume", we should note that "it is 
stamped as the property of this committee and 
for the examination only of the person whose name 
is written on it." The book, according to th